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EEV. l X. JUNKIN, D. D., 









T f ' *938 


THIS memoir of Winfield Scott Hancock is founded 
on an extended biography, compiled by the late Rev. D. 
X. Junldn, D. D., an eminent Presbyterian minister. 
Dr. Junkin was engaged during many years in the prep- 
aration of what was to him a labor of love the life of 
his hero, and his standard of excellence ; the life of a man 
who, to his mind, represented all that is noble, wise, and 
generous in human nature. Esteeming General Hancock 
above all other men, he confidently believed, up to the 
day of his death, that the American people would eventu- 
ally pay just tribute to the statesmanlike qualities, the 
stanch integrity, the magnanimity, and the patriotism 
of his hero by elevating him to the highest executive 
position within their gift. Dr. Junkin died in April, 
1880, respected and lamented. 

In undertaking the revision, condensation, and com- 
pletion of Dr. Junkin's voluminous and comprehensive 
material, the undersigned has been aided by having free 
access to all the necessary documents, including the offi- 
cial reports of General Hancock. He desires to recognize 

YHMitHJ VTOH'Ol'i-Ala 3KT 


in this place tlie value of the information afforded him 
and the aid rendered by Colonel and Brevet Brigadier- 
General "W. G. Mitchell, of General Hancock's staff, for 
eighteen years the General's principal aide-de-camp, and 
at present his close and valued friend. 

It has been the conscientious intention and scrupulous 
effort of the undersigned, in performing his responsible 
duty in connection with this work, to present to its readers 
such an account of its distinguished subject as should best 
convey the means for a just estimate of General Hancock's 
profound and varied nature, and of the vivid and impor- 
tant attitude which he sustains as a prominent figure in 
American history. 

General Hancock's single-minded patriotism, his deep 
sense of the duty of man to his brother man, his contempt 
for the employment of narrow, vicious, and degraded 
methods to sustain selfishness and illegitimate ambition, 
his remarkably acute and just perception of the relations 
of things, his comprehensive accumulation of knowledge, 
and the natural wisdom which has rendered his ability 
and his knowledge valuable to his fellow countrymen 
these are some of the qualities and characteristics which 
have been made prominent in the acts and life of General 
Hancock, and which this biography has sought to render 





Birth of Hancock His Birthplace Montgomery County, Pennsylvania ; its 
Scenes and Associations The Hancock Family Ancestry and Early 
History Benjamin F. Hancock and hia Wife Character and Charac- 
teristics of the Norristown Justice Elements of Family Character 
Family Politics PAGE 1 


Early Life Home Education School Days at the Norristown Academy 
The High School and the Literary Society Playing Soldiers The Boy 
Orator and Lecturer Character of Young Hancock His Sense of Jus- 
tice Anecdote of the Young Orphan Boy Extraordinary Coincidence 
Young Hancock turns Printer 8 


"VVest Point Young Hancopk is appointed Cadet His Life at the Military 
Academy Course of General Reading Studying Blackstene Gradua- 
tion Brevet Second Lieutenant, Sixth Infantry He starts for the 
Frontier Fort Washita, Indian Territory The Mexican Border Com- 
missioned Second Lieutenant Rumors of War Anxiety for Active Ser- 
vice Beginning of the War with Mexico The Impatient Young Sol- 
dierGeneral Scott, and his Victories 15 


Ordered to Mexico Landing at Vera Cruz The March from the Coast 
Guerrilla Fighting Capture of the National Bridge March to Puebla 
Junction of General Pierce's Column with the Force under General 
Scott A Forward Movement Active Service Lieutenant Hancock's 
First Engagement Battles of San Antonio and Churubusco Promo- 
tion of Lieutenant Hancock Gallant Cavalry Charge Phil Kearney 


Loses his Arm An Armistice Attack on Molino Del Key The Castle 
of Chapultepec Assault on the Fortifications Capture of the Castle 
Evacuation of the Mexican Army and Entrance of the American 
Forces into the City of Mexico Occupation of the Capital Treaty of 
Guadalupe Hidalgo The End of the War, and the Evacuation of the 
City of Mexico by the Americans Departure from Vera Cruz Lieu- 
tenant Hancock ordered to Prairie du Chien Leave of Absence and 
Return to Pennsylvania PAGE 21 


After the Mexican War The Return Home A Warm Reception Flatter- 
ing Testimonial of the Pennsylvania Legislature Ordered to St. Louis 
Joins the Sixth Infantry Appointed Quartermaster Commissioned 
Captain Ordered to Florida Seminole War Outbreak in Kansas 
Mormon Difficulties Return to Fort Bridger Expedition to Benicia, 
California Leave of Absence and Return East Ordered to Los An- 
geles, Southern California In Charge of the Military Depot 1 860-'61 : 
Outbreak of the Rebellion Excitement at Los Angeles A " Pacific 
Republic" Suggested A Fourth of July Celebration Captain Han- 
cock's Patriotic Speech He suppresses the Impending Insurrection 
Asks to be Sent on Active Service Is Ordered to the East Lands at 
New York, and reports for Duty at Washington .... 82 


Ordered to the Quartermaster's Department Commissioned Brigadier- 
General and sent to the Front Preparation of the Army of the Po- 
tomac Occupations of the Winter of 1861-'2 Drilling the Men 
General Hancock as a Disciplinarian His Standing with his Soldiers 
Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac Beginning of the 
March on Richmond Skirmishes and Reconnoissances Battle of 
Williamsburg The Brigade wins its First Colors General Hancock 
commended in the Official Report " Hancock was Superb To-day " 
Movement to the Peninsula along the Chickahominy Battles of 
Gaines's Mill and Garnett's Hill The Change of Base to the James 
Retreat of the " Seven Days " Battle of Savage Station Arrival at 
Harrison's Landing Up the Potomac 48 


Movement from Harrison's Landing to Acquia Creek and Alexandria, to 
join General Pope Hancock's Brigade at Centreville Defeat and 


Demoralization of Pope's Array The Capital in Danger General 
McClellan placed in Command of the Defenses around Washington 
Battle of Antietam General Hancock made Commander of the First 
Division, Second Army Corps, on the Field of Battle Loss at Antietam 
The Army delayed by the Want of Clothing and Supplies . PAGE 60 


Encampment of the Second Corps Harper's Ferry Reconnoissance, and Skir- 
mishing at Charlestown March to the Rappahannock Final Removal 
of General McClellan Replaced by General Burnside The Army 
before Fredericksburg Waiting for Pontoons Battle of Fredericks- 
burg Gallant Assault on Marye's Heights by Hancock's Division 
Repulse of the Union Forces Retreat across the Rappahannock 
Losses in General Hancock's Division The " Mud March " Removal 
of General Burnside General Joseph Hooker in Command In Win- 
ter Quarters ... 68 


The Reorganization of the Army The New Battle-field Position of Lee's 
Army General Hooker's Plan The Battle of Chancellorville Part 
borne by General Hancock Heavy Engagement on May 2d and 3d 
General Hooker rendered Insensible by a Spent Shot Gallant Con- 
duct of Colonel N. A. Miles Withdrawal of the Union Army Han- 
cock placed in Command of the Secqnd Army Corps Lee moves 
Northward, crosses the Potomac from Western Maryland into Penn- 
sylvania Movements of Hooker's Army General Hooker relieved 
by Major-General George G. Meade Concentration of the Opposing 
Armies at Gettysburg 76 


Movements of the Second Army Corps March by Acquia Creek and Dum- 
fries to Centreville General Meade's Headquarters at Taneytown 
Interview between Generals Meade and Hancock Death of General 
Reynolds Hancock ordered to the Front in Command of the First, 
Third, and Eleventh Corps Copy of General Meade's Order Directed 
to select the Battle Ground Appoints the Field of Gettysburg . 85 


Gettysburg Disposition of the Army General Sickles engaged The 
Third Corps repulsed and reenforced General Sickles disabled His 


Troops placed under the Command of Hancock Our Line strengthened 
by Doubleday's Division and a Portion of the First Corps The Enemy 
advancing all along the Line Heavy Fighting General Hancock 
reenforccd by Part of Lockwood's Brigade Gallant Charge of the 
First Minnesota, and Capture of Rebel Colors Caldwell's Division . 
Losses of the First Division, Second Army Corps The Brave Fifth 
New Hampshire Night of the 2d of July . . . PAGE 93 


Gettysburg Council of War The Last Day; July 3d Heavy Artillery 
Firing General Hancock and Staff ride along the Line of Battle, under 
a Heavy Fire Advance of the Enemy's Line Gallant Bearing of Gen- 
eral Hancock Fierce Attack by the Rebel Infantry, 18,000 strong 
The Battle wavers Desperate Fighting in All Directions The Enemy 
repulsed General Hancock shot from his Horse Message to General 
Meade, " We have gained a Great Victory " The Commander-in-Chief 
thanks General Hancock " in the Name of the Country and for Myself 
for the Service he has done this Day " General Hancock carried from 
the Field He is removed to his Father's House at Norristown, Penn- 
sylvania 103 


Gettysburg Summing Up General Lee's Intention to renew the Battle 
Retreat of the Confederate Army Killed and Wounded Incidents 
of the Battle by an Eye-witness Splendid Action of Hancock and 
his Staff Longstreet's Advance Magnificent Courage of the South- 
ernersThe Philadelphia Brigade Death of the Confederate General 
Armistead General Hancock the Savior of Gettysburg . .113 


General Hancock's Progress to Norristwn Popular Demonstrations on the 
Road Reception at Home Presentation of a Service of Plate to Gen- 
eral Hancock His Convalescence Joins his Family at Longwood, near 
St. Louis Reports for Duty at Washington, December 15, 1863 Re- 
turns to his Command of the Second Army Corps General Grant is 
appointed General-in-Chief of the Armies, and takes Immediate Com- 
mand of the Forces in Virginia Reconstruction of the Army of the 
Potomac General Hancock ordered North on Recruiting Service 
Grand Review by General Grant of the Second Corps (30,000 Men) 
Situation of the Confederate Army Campaign of 1864 The " Wilder- 



The Wilderness Crossing the Rapidan The Enemy in Force Forming 
the Line of Battle Attack of the Second Corps Close Quarters in the 
Woods Nightfall, and Cessation of Fighting Brigadier-General Hays 
killed A Serious Loss PAGE 130 


The Wilderness Second Day of the Fight Hancock ordered to attack 
His Preparations The Battle opens The Enemy driven back at all 
Points Hancock's Corps reenforced by one Division of the Ninth Corps 
Burnside comes up Sheridan's Cavalry attack Longstreet A 
Blunder Convalescent Union Soldiers mistaken for Confederates 
Longstreet's Assault in Force Our Left broken Retirement of the 
Union Forces Our Breastworks captured and retaken Conflagration 
The Union Forces retire toward Spottsylvania Court-House . 137 


Battle of the Wilderness General Hancock's Report Difficulties of the 
Situation Anticipated Movements not executed Complimentary Ref- 
erence to Officers of his Corps Splendid Testimonial to Generals 
Hays and Wadsworth A Brave Young Massachusetts Officer Tabu- 
lated Statement of Losses in the Second Corps General Hancock in 
Command of Sixty Thousand Men 147 


Spottsylvania Court-house Advance of the Union Army Lee's Movements 
Attack on Warren's Column ^The Latter retires, and the Soldiers 
sleep on their Arms Hancock's Corpse-Splendid Morale of the Men 
Death of General Sedgwick Killed by a Sharpshooter General 
Hancock's Official Report of the Battle Desperate Fighting The 
Woods on Fire Sharp Repulse of the Union Army . . .154 


Spottsylvania Court-house The Second Corps ordered to attack A Night 
March Forming the Line of Battle The Attack on the Enemy's Pick- 
ets Charging the Intrenchments The Irish Brigade The Entire 
Enemy's Line carried by Assault Splendid Victory Rebel Losses 
Anecdote of the Capture of the Rebel General George Stuart The 
Enemy reenforced Their Desperate Efforts to recapture their Line 
General Egan " holding the Fort " 169 



Spottsylvania Court-house Second Line of Intrenehments Gallantry of 
Colonel Carroll The Fighting renewed on the 18th Ewell retreat- 
ing General Hancock's Report Losses of the Second Corps during 
the Campaign General Hancock commends his Subordinate Officers 
Summary PAGE 181 


The March to Bowling Green Crossing the Mattapony at the North Anna , 
Taking Position Throwing up Breastworks Gallant Charge by Egan's 
and Pierce's Brigades, Birney's Division Crossing the North Anna 
Strong Position of the Enemy March from the North Anna to the 
Pamunky Cavalry Engagement Harassing the Enemy Tolopotomy 
Creek Ordered to Cold Harbor 189 


Cold Harbor Formation of the Second Corps The Assault General 
Brooke seriously wounded General McKeen killed The Attack re- 
pulsed by the Enemy General Grant on the Battle-field An Histori- 
cal Error corrected The Discipline and Loyalty of the Second Corps 
A Flag of Truce and Cessation of Hostilities Horrible Sufferings of 
the Wounded between the Lines Siege Operations Frightful Losses 
of the Second Corps The Movement to the James River . . 199 


The Change of Base Crossing the James Ordered to Petersburg A 
Chapter of Accidents Blind Guides General Grant's Order Opera- 
tions in Front of Petersburg The Assault Gallant Conduct of Gen- 
eral Barlow Death of Colonel Kelly (Eighty-eighth New York Volun- 
teers), commanding the Irish Brigade General Hancock disabled 
by his Old Wound He relinquishes his Command to Major-General 
Birney 209 


Petersburg General Birney in Command Persistent but Futile Attempts 
to carry the Enemy's Lines The Assault abandoned The Union 
Army fortifies its Position Threatening the Weldon Road Capture of 
a Second Corps Battery The Men dispirited General Hancock re- 
sumes his Command General Order No. 22 General Birney takes 
command of the Tenth Corps Losses of the Second Corps from the 
Crossing of the James to July 26th, 1864 . . . .222 



Petersburg The Enemy's Defenses A Siege undertaken Construction of 
Earthworks An Unfortunate Mining Experiment General Hancock's 
Expedition to destroy the Railroads north of Richmond Combined 
Operations of Infantry and Cavalry at Deep Bottom Gallant Charge 
of Sheridan's Cavalry Hancock returns with his Command to Peters- 
burg PAGE 231 


Deep Bottom again The Corps dispirited Obstacles to the Expedition 
Spirited Attack by Terry's Division Our Troops assaulted in Turn, 
and driven from their Works General Gregg's Brilliant Action at 
Deep Creek Near Approach to Richmond A Flag of Truce Re- 
turn of Hancock's Command to Petersburg Result of the Expedition 
Cutting the Weldon RailroadThe Second Corps in the Advance- 
Occupying the Old Works at Ream's Station Approach of the Enemy 
in Force , 239 


Ream's Station General Hancock's Preparations for the Fight Attack on 
the Works Capture of two Union Batteries by the Enemy Demoral- 
ization of our Men Raw Recruits, Substitutes, and " Three-months' " 
Men General Hancock's Horse shot under Him Perilous State of 
Affairs A Battery recaptured The Enemy driven back by Miles 
Complete Demoralization of Gibbon's Division Depression of General 
Hancock Withdrawal of the Union Army .... 247 


Battle of Boydton Road Hampton's "Beef" Raid Movement on the 
South Side Railroad General Grant's Orders Grant and Meade on 
the Field The Enemy open Fire Sharp Artillery Practice Attack by 
the Enemy in Force Repulse of Pierce's Brigade A Dangerous Situ- 
ation Masterly Movement by General Hancock Brilliant Defeat of 
the Enemy Savage Flank Attack by Wade Hampton's Cavalry No 
Reinforcements Short of Ammunition General Hancock's Embar- 
rassing Situation He concludes to withdraw General Hancock's Re- 
port Return to Petersburg 252 



Hancock's Last Battle with the Second Corps His Popularity with his Men 
Retrospective General Hancock directed to raise a Corps of Veter- 
ans He Relinquishes his Command, and names his Successor His 
parting General Order No. 44 Order of General Humphreys on as- 
suming Command General Hancock ordered to Winchester, Va., to 
take Command of the Middle Military DivisionAssassination of Pres~ 
ident Lincoln General Hancock ordered to Washington He is 
charged with the Security of the Capital Lieutenant-General Grant's 
Official Report The case of Mrs. Surratt . . . PAGE 265 


After the War Middle Military Department Headquarters at Baltimore 
General Hancock transferred to the Department of Missouri Indian 
Troubles General Hancock and the Cheyennes Indian Ti'eachery and 
its Punishment General Hancock appointed to the Command of the 
Fifth Military District He proceeds to New Orleans The Reconstruc- 
tion Acts Order No. 40 , . 278 


The Fifth Military District General Hancock's Powers President Lincoln's 
Theory of Reconstruction Flattering Recognition of Order No. 40 
Internal Questions in Louisiana and Texas General Hancock's Treat- 
ment of them Extracts from his Orders while in New Orleans Gen- 
eral Hancock's Course obnoxious to the Radicals They determine on 
his Removal James A. Garfield's Bill reducing the Number of Major- 
Generals Petty Annoyances General Hancock applies to be Relieved 
Relieved of his Command March 18, 1868 , , . t 295 


New Orleans The Pease Correspondence Message of President Johnson 
to both Houses of Congress Letter of General Hancock on the Freed; 
men's Bureau Commendatory Article in the " Southern Review" 310 


Division of the Atlantic 1868 Political Campaign General Hancock a 
Candidate for President The Glover Correspondence General Han^ 
cock relieved, and ordered to DakotaThe Indian Question Attack on 
the Piegans General Hancock again appointed to the Division of the 
Atlantic Presidential Election of 1872 General Hancock's Name 
prominent, t 333 

CONTENTS. x iii 


Department of the Atlantic The Babcock Court of Inquiry General Han- 
cock's Address Presidential Election of 1876 The Disputed Count 
Popular Excitement The "Sherman Letter" . . PAGE 342 


The Sherman-Hancock Correspondence Telegram from General Sherman 
General Sherman's Letter of December 4, 1876 Hancock to Sherman ; 
Leave of Absence General Sherman's Letter of December 17, 1876: 
A Newspaper Story General Hancock's Letter from Carondelet Tele- 
gram : Hancock to Sherman General Sherman's Letter of January 2, 
1877 ; Reply to the Carondelet Letter Hancock to Sherman : Contem- 
plated Uprising Hancock to Sherman Hancock to the Editor of the 
" World " Hancock to Sherman : the Electoral Commission Sher- 
man to Hancock : January 29, 1877 349 


1877 Situation of the Country Great Financial Depression Railroad 
Strikes The Army employed to suppress Rioting General Hancock 
directs its Movements 1880 The Nominations for President Cincin- 
nati Convention General Hancock unanimously nominated the Can- 
didate of the Democratic Party The Platform Speech of Hon. Daniel 
Dougherty General Hancock's Letter of Acceptance . . . 368 


Conclusion Anecdote of Mr. Lincoln An Incident of Chancellorville 
Hancock as a Writer: Testimony of General James B. Steadman 
Generals Sherman and Sheridan on General Hancock Hon. Amasa 
Cobb's Opinion of Him Magnificent Tribute by a Kansas Lecturer 
" Hancock " : A Poem, by Colonel A. J. H. Duganne Dr. Junkin on 
General Hancock's Private Character Finis .... 383 



















Birth of Hancock His Birthplace Montgomery County, Pennsylvania ; its 
Scenes and Associations The Hancock Family Ancestry and Early 
History Benjamin F. Hancock and his Wife Character and Charac- 
teristics of the Norristown Justice Elements of Family Character 
Family Politics. 

THE elasticity of the American system of government 
offers advantages to the sons of America, possessed, per- 
haps, by those of no other country. To the typical 
American versatile and adaptable all things are possi- 
ble : for him are the most exalted achievements in action 
and in fame. Unrestricted and unbounded, the American 
character would appear capable of grasping success in 
whatsoever field of effort it enters into ; a peculiarity of 
our people which has long been the admiration and the 
wonder of foreign nations. How frequently and how 
peculiarly is this comprehensiveness of capacity exhibited 
may be seen in the lives of rnost^ of our eminent men ; 
but, perhaps, in the history of none has this profound, 
aspiring, and all-pervading nature been better illustrated 
than in that of the eminent hero and skilled statesman, 
an account of whose life is herein to be attempted, 


Winfield Scott Hancock was born February 14, 1824, 
in a small village or hamlet in Montgomery County, 
Pennsylvania, called Montgomery Square, located twelve 
miles east of JSTorristown, and midway between that vil- 
lage and Doylstown, the county seat of Bucks. This re- 
gion of country is one of rare beauty, teeming with natu- 
ral wealth. Bounded on the north by the Kittatinny or 
Blue Mountains, on the east by the Delaware River, on 
the south by the States of Delaware and Maryland, and 
on the west by the Susquehanna, it embraces the old 
counties which constituted the original province to which 
was given the name of the illustrious Penn. Comprising 
a scenery varying with all the lavish possibilities of na- 
ture, it exhibits rolling hills and waving plains, stately 
mountains and smiling valleys, tall gray cliffs and deep 
ravines, sparkling brooks and noble rivers its wooded 
ridges and fertile plow-lands presenting to the eye of the 
tourist a succession of landscapes marked with ever- 
changing beauty and picturesqueness. It is a land of 
rare loveliness, affording to its industrious and thrifty 
inhabitants beautiful, healthful, and happy homesteads, 
and is even to-day visited by thousands of travelers as a 
portion of the country especially favored in its landscape 
and scenic resources. 

The County of Montgomery, named after the gallant 
and accomplished Irish General who fell while leading an 
assault on Quebec in the early period of the Revolutionary 
struggle, was set off from Philadelphia County in 1784. 
Within its bounds were located some of the earliest set- 
tlements that were effected by Europeans in the Middle 
States. Indeed, as early as 1640, Swedes, Hollanders, 
Welsh, Germans, and English had sought the banks of 
the Delaware, the Schuylkill, and the Neshaminy. During 


the Revolutionary War, this section of the country became 
famous for its historic fields Brandy wine, Paoli, White 
Horse, Germantown, and Yalley Forge while the forces 
both of Sir William Howe and General Washington en- 
camped upon the plains of Montgomery County and 
traversed her roads. 

Born amid such surroundings, and within the memory 
of such associations, Winfield Scott Hancock came of Brit- 
ish ancestry, his father, however, Benjamin Franklin Han- 
cock, having been an American, born in the city of Phila- 
delphia, October 19, 1800. He was the son of Richard 
Hancock by his second wife, Ann Maria Nash, who was 
born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1777. Richard and Ann 
Maria Hancock were married in Philadelphia. They had 
two children, Benjamin Franklin, the father of General 
Hancock, and Sarah, born in 1802, who became the wife 
of Henry E. Reynolds, Esq., now deceased. Richard 
Hancock had, by his previous marriage, two daughters, 
Eliza and Ann, who died at or near Philadelphia. This 
Richard Hancock, grandfather to the subject of our biog- 
raphy, was a mariner, who, being on a voyage while his 
son Benjamin, Winfield's father, was quite young, was 
with others captured by the British, and, under pretext of 
their owing allegiance to Great Britain, was confined in 
Dartmoor prison, and did not return to America for sev- 
eral years. This occurred in 1812, when 2,500 impressed 
American sailors were incarcerated in this huge jail, 
where most of them were detained, receiving exception- 
ally harsh treatment, until the end of the war. The Dart- 
moor prison inclosure occupied an area of thirty acres, 
encircled by a double line of lofty walls. The moor it- 
self is a desolate tract of land in Devonshire, about 
150,000 acres in area, alternately swamp and barrens. 


It is possible that this occurrence may account in part 
for the firm adherence of the Hancock family to that 
party in politics which always most firmly resisted British 
aggression, denied the right claimed by Great Britain of 
searching American vessels for British seamen, and which 
has always advocated a policy distinctively American. The 
long and unjust imprisonment of the father caused the 
breaking up of the family. His son Benjamin was reared 
by John Roberts, Esq., a member of the Society of 
Friends, residing near Montgomery Square, with whom 
he continued to live until his marriage. The daughter, 
Sarah, was, at a later period, provided with a home in the 
house of a Mr. Harper, at Providence, in the same county, 
where she remained until about her sixteenth year, when 
she rejoined her brother, with whom she lived until she 
returned to Philadelphia and there married. Richard 
Hancock, after his release, returned from England, but 
again embarked for a voyage to that country, and died of 
ship fever while at sea. His wife, the mother of Benja- 
min, and grandmother of Winfield, died about 1822, a 
few years after the death of her husband. Benjamin F. 
Hancock, named, of course, after the great patriot, states- 
man, and philosopher, was, when quite a young man, 
thrown upon his own resources for a livelihood, owing to 
his having displeased his guardian by not marrying in the 
Society of Friends. In order to support himself and 
wife, he resorted to teaching, which he practiced at 
Montgomery Square, and also for a time in the northern 
part of Bucks County. While thus employed, however, 
he prosecuted the study of law, under the direction of the 
Hon. John Freedley, of Norristown, formerly a member 
of Congress, and an eminent lawyer. Mr. Freedley died, 
leaving a large estate, of which he appointed his former 


student one of the executors, thus exhibiting the great 
confidence he felt in Mr. Hancock. The latter was ad- 
mitted to the bar in Montgomery County in the year 
1828, about which time he removed with his family to 
Norristown, the subject of this memoir being at that time 
in his fourth year. 

In that town, now a city, Benjamin Hancock continued 
in the diligent practice of his profession until his death, 
which occurred on the 1st of February, 1867, in the 67th 
year of his age. His remains lie buried in the Mont- 
gomery cemetery at Norristown. He left to survive him 
a widow and three children Major-General "Wlnfield 
Scott Hancock and Hilary B. Hancock, twins, and John 
Hancock. He was a well-read, judicious, and industrious 
lawyer. His opinions were always held in high respect, 
and, being patient and careful in his investigations, to 
these opinions when formed he always firmly adhered. 
Of calm, equable temper, his character was marked by 
great decision. He was preeminently a just man, spe- 
cially qualified for the bench, and often spoken of in that 
connection. Nothing but his modesty and the absence of 
a self-seeking spirit prevented his reaching high judicial 
position. In his early years at the bar he was appointed 
District Attorney by the Governor of the State, but, 
although he served also in several other official capacities, 
it was always without effort on his part in his own 

Both he and his wife were consistent and exemplary 
members of the regular Baptist Church, and from 1842 
until his death Benjamin Hancock was a deacon of the 
church, besides being superintendent of the Sabbath- 
school for more than thirty years. 

Of Mr. Hancock, a writer in the Philadelphia " North 


American " of February 2, 1867, said : " Thus has passed 
away, without an enemy, one of the oldest residents of 
Norristown. For more than forty years his deeds of love 
and charity and his acts of benevolence and enterprise 
have been conspicuous, and have endeared him to the 
entire community. During his long practice at the bar, 
his uniform kindness, his modest and unassuming man- 
ners, and his faithful attention to the interests of his 
clients, won the respect and esteem of his brethren at 
the bar and the judges on the bench. In almost every 
work of public benefaction of his town he was an active 
and prominent participant. He died as he had lived a 
firm believer in the Christian faith, and of a certain 
hope in immortality." Mr. Hancock was considered by 
all who knew him one of the finest specimens of a gentle- 
man of the old school, a thorough Saxon in his form and 
fair complexion, six feet in height, and, in his latter 
years, portly, erect in carriage, dressing with elegance and 
scrupulous neatness, his entire bearing being that of a 
gentleman, his kind and dignified manners, radiant with 
Christian benevolence, causing him to be universally 
esteemed and admired. 

General Hancock's mother, Elizabeth Hoxworth, was 
born, in Montgomery County, and died in 1879. Her 
ancestry was English and "Welsh. Her father, Edward 
Hoxworth, was born in Hatfield township, Montgomery 
County, in 1760, and died in 1847. lie descended from 
a long line of Hawkesworths (for thus the name was 
anciently spelled), one of whom was a soldier in the old 
French and Indian wars, and captain in the American 
patriot army, and died in camp in 1777. Edward, Gen- 
eral Hancock's grandfather, was a Revolutionary soldier, 
whose brother was an officer in the War of 1812. 


From these brief notices of the ancestry of our sub- 
ject, it will be seen that, while military experience char- 
acterized the family from the beginning, the warlike 
tendency was chastened by sincere and earnest Christian 
belief and practice, and by professional labors in the paths 
of education and law-making. From such roots, struck 
firmly and deeply into the ground made sacred by the 
blood of his forefathers, might well spring forth a branch, 
combining in the elements of its growth the qualities of 
firmness, patriotism, and respect for law and order for 
which the family were eminent. 

It is related of the Hancock family that its political 
principles were always,^ especially after the presidency of 
John Adams, those of the anti-Federal, or Democratic, 
party. Benjamin Hancock's convictions of the necessity 
for a strict construction of the Constitution of the United 
States were very decided, so that the subject of this me- 
moir was early indoctrinated into the Democratic faith, 
and strongly impressed with its importance to the perpe- 
tuity of the Union and the preservation of American 
liberty. A regard for personal liberty, freedom of speech, 
and a marked spirit of adherence to the right of local 
self-government have always characterized the Hancock 
connection from the beginning of its history in America. 


Early Life Home Education School Days at the Norristown Academy 
The High School and the Literary Society Playing Soldiers The Boy 
Orator and Lecturer Character of Young Hancock His Sense of Jus- 
tice Anecdote of the Young Orphan Boy Extraordinary Coincidence 
Young Hancock turns Printer. 

AT the time of the birtli of the twin brothers, Gen- 
eral Winfield Scott had borne so conspicuous a part in the 
then recent war of 1812-' 15 as to make him one of the 
most admired of American soldiers, and, although he had 
not yet reached the zenith of his fame, his name was 
upon every tongue. Mr. Hancock did not know him 
personally, but, under a patriotic impulse, named one of 
his boys after "Winfield Scott, and the venerable Lieuten- 
ent-General more than once in after years acknowledged 
the compliment, and referred in terms of pride and com- 
mendation to his rising namesake. 

Young Hancock's education began in that best of pri- 
mary schools, the Christian family. In regard to this he 
was highly favored. His father had been a teacher be- 
fore "Winfield's birth, and had been also a director in the 
new public-school system ; but now to his experience as 
an instructor was added the tender solicitude of a father, 
stimulated by the devout piety of the mother of his boys. 
In this home-church and home-school our hero received 
from the parents whose character we have indicated his 
first lessons. There he became imbued with the princi- 


pies and sentiments on which was established as on a 
rock the character of the future leader of men. 

It is the testimony of his playmates in these early 
days that he was at all times a patient, cheerful, courteous, 
truthful, kind, and manly boy. Meanwhile, he was a boy 
among boys, taking his share of the hard knocks and pre- 
carious usage of the playground, but holding always in an 
honorable and manly fashion a prominent position among 
his school-mates. Although the brothers had more than 
ordinary home advantages, Winfield and Hilary were 
sent in early boyhood to an excellent select school. ISTor- 
ristown Academy, then established, was beautifully situ- 
ated, with spacious grounds around it, and in its day was 
esteemed a highly respectable seat of learning. At about 
this period the public-school system was inaugurated in 
Pennsylvania, and a high school in that system became so 
well established, under competent teachers, that it soon 
superseded the old academy, and became the alma mater 
of its pupils. The teachers in both of these schools have 
placed on record their warm affection for young Hancock. 

Winfield was early recognized as a leader among his 
young companions in all the manly sports and enterprises 
of boyhood. Possessed of a vigorous physique, excellent 
health, and fine muscular development, he seemed chosen 
by Nature to be a leader. His fondness for military exer- 
cises was early remarked. He organized a military com- 
pany among his school-mates, being chosen their captain 
by acclamation. "Winfield's mother is said to have con- 
tributed the uniform for this band of young soldiers, who, 
with mimic muskets and other equipments, presented 
quite a respectable display, as they paraded the streets, 
or were drilled by their boy commander upon the court- 
house green. A drum and fife stimulated their marching 


and countermarching, and, as they followed their flag, 
their soldierly bearing attracted much attention and many 
compliments. Occasionally their toils and dangers were 
rewarded by rations of dough-nuts and lemonade, while 
the orchards and chestnut and walnut groves in the neigh- 
borhood of Norristown frequently bore witness to the 
determined raids of these nascent patriots. It has been, 
however, conceded by the Norristown farmers that the 
boy foragers were quite welcome to all they obtained, 
and seldom violated the rules of justice and propriety. 

The peculiar characteristic of young Hancock, which 
specially rendered him popular among his companions, 
was a certain disinterested manliness of disposition, upon 
which they always relied to induce him to sacrifice him- 
self in defending the weak, and in insuring fair play to 
all. Many anecdotes are related of this period of his life, 
illustrating his truthful nature and his large-hearted sense 
of honor. In all those native characteristics which most 
endear a lad to his comrades, young Hancock displayed 
clearly that " the boy was father to the man." Not all 
his spare time, however, was devoted to rough sports or 
imitation military exercises. It would appear that he 
had aspirations in other directions, and it is specially re- 
lated of him, as also of his brother, that the two collected 
quite an extensive cabinet of mineralogical and geologi- 
cal specimens, and were members of a literary and scien- 
tific society organized in the high school. In this society 
experiments were made in chemistry and natural phi- 
losophy the educational facilities of the school embrac- 
ing most of the branches generally taught in the better 
class of academies of that day. 

The young students delivered lectures on the scien- 
tific subjects named and other topics, which, of course, 


were not very profound, but were by no means destitute 
of real merit. Friends of the scholars, and others who 
chose to be present, were admitted as auditors and specta- 
tors, and it is clear that, in all of these more intellectual 
exercises, the Hancock boys bore their share, Winfield 
especially being in demand whenever a call was made for 
special energy or executive tact. 

In those days patriotism ran high in Pennsylvania, and 
the anniversary of the Independence of our country was 
generally celebrated with great warmth and earnestness 
by the people of Norristown and vicinity. The ceremo- 
nial included the customary firing of cannon, the ringing 
of all the bells, the display of the national flag in promi- 
nent places, the parade of volunteer soldiers, both adult 
and juvenile, and, in fact, all the usual demonstrations in 
honor of the day. A public dinner, accompanied by the 
reading of the Declaration, and an oration and appropriate 
toasts, further gratified the patriotic proclivities of Nor- 
ristown. In all of these festivities and ceremonies young 
Hancock took a deep interest, and not unfrequently bore 
an active and laborious part. His home guards sometimes 
had their place in the military pageant, and, when not in 
command of his company, Winfield generally devoted 
himself very earnestly to the care of the little cannon 
whose noisy exhibition contributed to the excitement of 
the day. But upon one of these occasions, when in his 
fifteenth year, the boy received a marked expression of 
esteem in being appointed to read in public the Declara- 
tion of Independence. The conclusion of this experiment 
justified his selection. Both in his understanding and his 
enunciation of the world-renowned proclamation, young 
Hancock covered himself with glory. It is by no means 
designed to intimate that this boy was in any sense pre- 


cocious or a prodigy, but the whole history of his school 
days and early life presents him as differing from others 
of his age, in being less inclined to frivolity than they, 
and of a sedate and thoughtful nature, indicating depth 
of character and reflective powers beyond his years. It 
was doubtless owing to his home training that he de- 
veloped, at an earlier period than is usual, features of char- 
acter which caused him to be so much esteemed. He ex- 
hibited a tendency to associate rather with his elders than 
with those younger than himself or of his own age, and 
among those he was always welcome, his attentive, earnest, 
and modest demeanor, and his character of being a good 
listener, rendering him a general favorite. Probably it was 
while listening to the discussions of the intelligent citizens 
of his section of the country, that the boy gathered the 
material upon which were based the opinions which be- 
came so marked and emphatic in later years. It is cer- 
tain that here he became familiar with affairs, with the 
history of his country, and with political principles. 
Thus, between sturdy and healthful amusements and 
thoroughly enjoyable intellectual communion, the boy's 
school days passed rapidly away, during which he was 
steadily developing a character of manly firmness and a 
mind marked by strong good sense and great self-reliance, 
deliberate judgment, and decided convictions. His at- 
tainments in useful learning, meanwhile, if not brilliant, 
were substantial, thorough, and practical. Naturally kind 
and generous, there was also manifest in his character a 
warm sympathy with the neglected and the oppressed. 
An instance illustrating this phase of his character is 
related in a little memoir called " Winfield, the Lawyer's 
Son." When young Hancock was only eleven years of 
age, there was brought to Norristown a poor orphan boy, 


whose father had died when the child was three years 
old, and who was placed in charge of a relative of his 
family. This boy, two years the junior of Winfield, be- 
came his playmate and, before long, his friend. It would 
appear that the little orphan was much neglected, and was 
often tyrannized over by his larger associates. But his 
young friend stood by him and took his part ; if need be, 
employing the most decided measures to protect him from 
annoyance. His magnanimous firmness on such occasions 
was generally successful, and even the persecutors them- 
selves respected him all the more for his courage and 
kindness to the orphan. Such conduct on his part was 
so evidently based on a strong and clear sense of justice 
that he gradually became the acknowledged umpire in 
the disputes which frequently arose among the boys. 
When all means had been employed by themselves to 
reach an amicable adjustment of their difficulties, the cry 
would be raised, " Oh ! leave it to Winfield ; he'll settle 
it." This being done, his arbitration was almost always 
deemed satisfactory, and willingly accepted. 

The story of the orphan boy and his champion friend 
has a sequel which brings it justly within the romance of 
history. The boy in question left Norristown at an early 
age and repaired to Philadelphia, where he became a 
journeyman carpenter. It is related of him that, when 
lie crossed Market Street bridge, but a single penny re- 
mained in his pocket ; but he was intelligent and indus- 
trious, and rose rapidly, and eventually he acquired 
wealth and social standing, becoming, in the course of 
time, a member of the City Councils, honored and trust- 
ed. Meanwhile the courageous and just friend of his 
youthful days had become renowned as a great com- 
mander, and had obtained high rank in his country's ser- 


vice. It devolved upon the Councils of Philadelphia to 
offer a series of resolutions commending the patriotism, 
courage, and skill of Major-General Winfield Scott Han- 
cock. These resolutions passed unanimously by both 
branches of the City Councils were engrossed and sent 
to Washington (where the General then was), in charge 
of a committee for the purpose of presentation. The 
surprising incident in this history exists in the fact that 
to John William Everman, the abused orphan of his 
school days, fell the honorable duty of presenting the 
resolutions to General Hancock. 

Returning from this digression, we have to note an 
episode in the early history of young Hancock, which 
shows that even at this period the versatility of his char- 
acter had begun to display itself. It was in 1835, and 
an election for governor in Pennsylvania was impending. 
There chanced to be a split in the Democratic party, and 
two candidates of that party were in the field. The 
Democratic organ of the county having declared for one 
of these, a number of prominent citizens, including B. F. 
Hancock, established a rival paper advocating the election 
of the other. Young Winfield, although only a boy of 
eleven years, at once took a lively interest both in the 
campaign and in the new paper. Printers at that time 
were hard to obtain, and so it happened that, when school 
hours permitted, the lad turned into the oifice, and, con 
amore, helped on the cause by setting type, distributing, 
or even working the press. By the time the canvass 
was concluded, he had become quite a printer, besides 
having acquired considerable interest in the politics of 
his native State. 


West Point Young Hancock is appointed Cadet His Life at the Military 
Academy Course of General Reading Studying Blackstone Gradua- 
tion Brevet Second Lieutenant, Sixth Infantry He starts for the 
Frontier Fort Washita, Indian Territory The Mexican Border Com- 
missioned Second Lieutenant Rumors of War Anxiety for Active Ser- 
vice Beginning of the War with Mexico The Impatient Young Sol- 
dier General Scott, and his Victories. 

IN 1840, at the age of sixteen, young Hancock en- 
tered the Military Academy at West Point, having ob- 
tained his cadetship through the influence of Hon. John 
B. Sterigere, a lawyer, and a prominent citizen of Mont- 
gomery County, who had represented his district in the 
Congress of the United States. Mr. Sterigere was a man 
of eccentric temper and habits, strong in his friendships 
and resentments, but possessing great adroitness as well 
as energy in the management of men and affairs. He 
was the personal and political friend of Mr. Benjamin 
Hancock, and, having observed the manly bearing as well 
as the comprehensive intelligence of his friend's son Win- 
field, he voluntarily caused his appointment. To West 
Point accordingly the young man repaired, entering the 
Military Academy as a cadet July 1, 1840. He passed 
the examination for admission respectably, not being ex- 
traordinarily advanced in scholarship, although he had 
studied regularly all his previous life and had read a 
great deal; indeed, he once, later in life, expressed to a 


friend the opinion that he entered the Academy too early. 
" I developed late," was his remark, " and at sixteen was 
too much of a boy, too full of life, to feel the importance 
of hard study. It would have been better if I had not 
entered until I was eighteen." In fact, he has frequently 
confessed that he was not a student for the love of it. 
His class at West Point at first numbered about one hun- 
dred, but, owing to the failures in examinations and other 
causes, it became reduced by the end of the first year to 
fifty-four, and ultimately graduated only twenty-five. 

At the present time General Hancock is himself the 
only surviving member of his class in the active service 
of his country. Some have fallen in battle, some died, 
and others, for other reasons, are out of the service. But 
among the names of those who were contemporaries of 
Hancock as cadets in the Academy are many who have 
since become by their achievements and reputation emi- 
nent in the annals of the country. Such are Generals U. 
S. Grant, George B. McClellan, Franklin, William F. 
Smith, J. F. Reynolds, Rosecrans, Lyon, and others of 
the Union army ; and Longstreet, Pickett, E. K. Smith, 
and Stonewall Jackson, who distinguished themselves in 
the Confederate service. 

"With regard to Hancock, the same qualities and quali- 
fications which had made him popular among his school- 
fellows and friends at home won for him a sustained and 
similar popularity in the Academy, and which did not 
abate during his entire cadetship. During the first two 
years of his life in the institution, his habits of study 
appear not to have been so close and assiduous as they 
became during the last two. Then he steadily advanced 
upon his previous standing, and would have graduated 
higher than he did, had it not been from the fact of his 


having been less atttentive to his work in the begin- 

The code of discipline at West Point is very severe, 
and demerits are incurred on the slightest violation of 
this, and for acts of neglect or carelessness which would 
pass without notice in any ordinary educational institution. 

The early age at which young Hancock entered his 
mind not being yet fully formed, or cast in the mold of 
earnestness which afterward characterized it militated 
greatly, during his first two years in the Academy, against 
that understanding of the value of strict discipline which 
is there necessary. It may, however, with justice, be 
assumed of him that his rapid advancement during his 
last two years was due to his better appreciation of the 

During his academic course young Hancock attended 
considerably to general reading, and he relates, himself, 
the incident of his father having presented him with a 
copy of "Chitty's Blackstone," accompanied with the 
expression of a desire that he should read it and re-read 
it. He fulfilled his father's injunctions, though perhaps 
in a great degree from a sense of duty. To this particular 
work were added " Kent's Commentaries," and others, 
chosen from the library at West Point, of a similar char- 
acter, and to this course of reading may be attributed, 
doubtless, the skill and readiness which, at an after period 
of his life, became of such value to him in the illustration 
of important questions of organic law. 

Hancock graduated at West Point on June 30, 1844, 
being breveted second lieutenant in the Sixth Infantry 
July 1, 1844. While young Hancock remained a cadet, 
General Scott, whose name he bore, had frequently visited 
the Academy, and always exhibited a warm interest in his 


namesake. At the time of the latter's graduation, the old 
general asked him to what regiment he preferred being 
assigned, to which the young man replied, "The one 
which is stationed farthest "West." He sought such ser- 
vice from a desire to see the distant frontier, to roam over 
its prairies and through its passes and ravines, and to 
obtain personal knowledge of the red men. Doubtless, 
also, there arose before him visions rather of sport with 
the shot-gun, the rifle, and the rod, than encounters on the 
field of battle. 

The company to which he was assigned was stationed 
at Fort Towson, in the Indian country, near the Red 
River, on the border of Texas. Another station of this 
regiment was at Fort Washita, ninety miles west of Fort 
Towson, and was then the most remote station on our 
western frontier New Mexico and California not having 
been acquired, and the boundary then being the 100th de- 
gree of west longitude. The other companies of the regi- 
ment were stationed on the Arkansas River, at Forts Smith 
and Gibson, and General Zach. Taylor, afterward Presi- 
dent of the United States, commanded the whole. Al- 
though in the vicinity of the hostile Indians, Hancock's 
first field of service was chiefly in the region occupied by 
the half - civilized Chickasaws, Cherokees, and Creeks 
The country was healthy and fertile, partly prairie and 
partly wooded, and well watered. It afforded a fine range 
for the sportsman, and our young soldier and his compan- 
ions in military duty made frequent excursions into the 
neighboring country of Texas. Time passed rapidly in 
the face of this new and exhilarating life, and on June 18, 
1846, Hancock received his commission as second lieu- 
tenant in a company of his regiment stationed on the 
frontier of Mexico, where the difficulties, which afterward 


eventuated in the Mexican War, had already commenced. 
The commander of Fort Washita, deeming Lieutenant 
Hancock's services necessary at that post, declined to 
permit him to join his company ; and it was not until 
General Scott, in passing through New Orleans on his 
'way to Mexico, had heard from some friend of Han- 
cock's that he was thus detained, and sent peremptory 
orders for him to proceed on other duty, that he was 
allowed to depart. He was ordered first to report at 
Newport Barracks, Kentucky, thence to take recruits to 
Mexico. But before the execution of this order he was 
sent with troops to the Missouri frontier, and was after- 
ward stationed at Cincinnati for a brief period as an 
assistant to the officer who conducted the mustering-in of 
volunteers ; and it was not until after repeated applications 
to his superiors and to the War Department that he was 
permitted to proceed to Mexico. Lieutenant Hancock's 
anxiety to join his regiment was expressed in the follow- 
ing letter to his twin-brother : 


" MY DEAR HILARY : I was exceedingly glad on my 
arrival here to find two long and interesting letters from 
you. The only thing that grieves me is that I can not go 
to Mexico. I made an application to-day to join the army 
going to the front. Whether the adjutant-general will 
favor it or not, I do not know, but I think it doubtful. I 
am actively engaged as assistant superintendent of re- 
cruiting service of the western division, and acting as 
assistant inspector-general; but, though my services are 
said to be useful, I still want to go to Mexico. 
" Your affectionate brother, 



Before the permission he craved was given, the bat- 
tles of Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, Monterey, and 
Buena Yista had been fought, and northern Mexico was 
held by our army of occupation. General Scott had 
effected a landing at Yera Cruz, had bombarded and cap- 
tured that city with its fortresses, and was on the march 
to the Mexican capital ; he had fought and won the battle 
of Cerro Gordo, and was still advancing on his conquer- 
ing progress. 


Ordered to Mexico Landing at Vera Cruz The March from the Coast 
Guerrilla Fighting Capture of the National Bridge March to Puebla 
Junction of General Pierce's Column with the Force under General 
Scott A Forward Movement Active Service Lieutenant Hancock's 
First Engagement Battles of San Antonio and Churubusco Promo- 
tion of Lieutenant Hancock Gallant Cavalry Charge Phil Kearney 
Loses his Arm An Armistice Attack on Molino Del Key The Castle 
of Chapultepec Assault on the Fortifications Capture of the Castle 
Evacuation of the Mexican Army and Entrance of the American 
Forces into the City of Mexico Occupation of the Capital Treaty of 
Guadalupe Hidalgo The End of the War, and the Evacuation of the 
City of Mexico by the Americans Departure from Vera Cruz Lieu- 
tenant Hancock ordered to Prairie du Chien Leave of Absence and 
Return to Pennsylvania. 

AT length the impatient young soldier was ordered 
forward. The troops landed at Yera Cruz in season 
to join General Pierce's column, which was about to 
march to reenforce General Scott at Puebla. He was 
assigned to duty with a battalion commanded by Colonel 
M. L. Bonham, and was appointed its adjutant. On this 
march there was no extended or heavy fighting, but fre- 
quent and vexatious skirmishes with the Mexican Guer- 
rillas brought our troops under fire, and that of a more 
dangerous character often than would have been the case 
in open field-fighting. The chief encounter of this charac- 
ter was had at the National Bridge, which the Mexicans 
had barricaded and held against our forces ; the heights 


overlooking the bridge, and within musket range, were 
occupied by the enemy. This bridge El Puente Nacio- 
nal was a fine stone structure, built by the Spaniards 
on the national road from Yera Cruz to the city of Mex- 
ico. It had only a low stone balustrade, on account of 
which our troops in crossing it had little protection from 
the enemy's fire. Hancock was in command of one of the 
companies detailed to charge and capture the bridge, and 
the barricade near the farther end of it. It was the first 
action in which he had immediate prospect of being under 
a severe fire. In fact, so sharp and galling a fire was 
opened upon the troops from the heights overlooking 
their position on our own side of the river, that it became 
necessary to dislodge the firing party before a further ad- 
vance, and this duty fell to the lot of Lieutenant Han- 
cock's company. The movement was a success, and im- 
mediately after the bridge and barricade were carried 
by two companies under Major Holden. 

It soon became known that the enemy had reoccupied 
Cerro Gordo, a few miles in advance, and a night expe- 
dition was sent forward, under Colonel Bonham, to dis- 
cover a path by which the enemy's rear could be reached. 
Of this detachment Lieutenant Hancock was adjutant. 
The night was dark and the rain fell in torrents, the 
ground was rugged and precipitous, and, to add to the 
difficulties of the situation, the guide presently lost his 
way. The night expedition proved a failure, but, as the 
enemy made no serious stand at Cerro Gordo, the fact 
was of little consequence. 

General Pierce's column reached Puebla in time to 
join the army of General Scott in its advance upon the 
Mexican capital. Hancock there joined his regiment, of 
which he was the junior lieutenant. The army of inva- 


sion began its march on the 8th of August. It pro- 
ceeded in four divisions, marching a day apart. This 
was a hazardous undertaking, as General Scott's force, 
counting every man, numbered but 10,738, many of whom 
were teamsters and non-combatants. The invading col- 
umn numbered, in fact, less than ten thousand available 
men. Much time had been spent at Puebla, though this 
was not lost time, since reinforcements had to be waited 
for, supplies collected, and, above all, the men, a portion 
of whom were volunteers and raw recruits, had to be 
drilled to prepare them for effective service. 

Fortunately, the commanding general had the move- 
ments of his little army under his entire* control. He 
was too distant from the capital of his country, and from 
impatient civilians and a clamorous press, to be badgered 
into a premature advance, such as he reluctantly con- 
sented to fifteen years later, and which was so ingloriously 
checked at Bull Run. General Scott wisely got his gal- 
lant force into good condition before pushing into the 
heart of the enemy's country, with a hostile population 
of eight millions surrounding him, with fortifications in 
front, and a force of three times his number opposing his 

It was a sublime sight, the advance of that little army 
amid such surroundings, and with such fearful odds 
against it. But, as the brave old General Towson once 
remarked and he was not a "West Point man " Many of 
our young West Point lieutenants are fit to command 

The march to Mexico, and the battles and the assaults 
which resulted in its capture, illustrated the advantage of 
science and discipline over mere force and numbers in 
the terrible struggles of war. 


General Hancock, in referring to this march, once re- 
marked : " To me our march was as good as a picnic, and, 
although conducted with care, we placed no pickets ex- 
cept on the roads, and they were kept by details of com- 
panies or detachments. The regimental guards were 
kept up, however, and we felt secure." 

Hancock marched on foot with his company during 
this campaign. The army entered the beautiful valley, 
in which the city of Mexico reposed, on the southeast side, 
probably along the same route by which the Spaniards 
under Cortez had marched three centuries before. The 
city is almost surrounded by beautiful lakes, which add to 
the picturesqueness and magnificence of the landscape. 
To all, and especially to the young and enthusiastic officers 
of the army, that grand panorama must have proved im- 
pressive and interesting. The very majesty that hangs 
over its history previous to the Spanish conquest, its great 
antiquity, its subjection by the Spaniards, the tragic death 
of the unhappy and amiable Montezuma and his no less 
unhappy dynasty, all belong to the romance of history, 
and would naturally gather around the valley and the 
beleaguered city an intensity of thrilling associations. 
But, whatever the first impression the scene may have 
produced upon the minds of our officers, they were all 
soon absorbed in the stern and terrible realities of war. 
Besides the less important collisions connected with the 
capture of Mexico, there were four principal battles: 
Contreras, Churubusco, Molino Del Eey, and Chapultepec. 
The first action of any importance in which Lieutenant 
Hancock was engaged was that of San Antonio, which 
preceded the battle of Churubusco, the latter occurring on 
the 20th of August, 1847, at a locality a few miles nearer 
to the city of Mexico. In the latter conflict, a charge 


was made upon a tete depont, in which the commander of 
Hancock's company, Hendrickson, was severely wounded, 
and the command of the company devolved upon Lieu- 
tenant Hancock, a position which he continued to hold 
until his wounded commander resumed duty after the 
army entered the city. The first assault along the main 
road met with obstructions caused by the blowing up of 
the enemy's ammunition wagons, which, owing to the 
rapid advance of our troops, he had not been able to carry 
inside of the lines. The deranged battalion was again 
formed, however, and, on a second advance, the enemy's 
intrenchments were carried by companies of different 
regiments, the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Infantry, and 
artillery regiments acting as infantry. Simultaneous with 
this advance, attacks were made upon the Church by the 
Third Infantry and other troops. Meanwhile Shields's 
brigade, of South Carolina, New York, and other troops 
attacked the enemy's rear. Captain William Hoffman 
was the commander of the battalion of the Sixth Infantry 
at the culmination of this attack, Major Bonneville, of 
Astoria reputation, having been disabled in the early part 
of the engagement. Lieutenant Hancock's company was 
of this command. 

The enemy's position at Churubusco having been 
forced, our troops promptly advanced upon his reserves, 
soon driving them from the field. This fight is memor- 
able for the gallant cavalry charge of Generals Harney 
and Phil Kearney, in which the latter lost his arm. 

The capture of Contreras and Clmrubusco on that day 
left two other strongly fortified points before the city could 
be reached from the south side Molino del Eey, and the 
seemingly impregnable castle of Chapultepec. Contreras 
is situated nine or ten miles south by west of the city of 



Mexico and at the south end of an almost impassable 
field of lava, while Churubusco lies north of this field on 
a main approach to the city. Molino del Rey is about 
three miles west by north of the city ; Chapultepec one 
mile nearer to it, and directly between the two. Prior to 
the "assault on Molino del Hey an effort was made by 
the Mexicans to obtain terms of capitulation. General 
Scott, however, having rejected all terms except absolute 
surrender, a cessation of hostilities was agreed upon, to 
give Santa Anna time for consideration. Negotiations 
ensued, which protracted the armistice until the 7th of 
September, which period Santa Anna treacherously em- 
ployed, contrary to stipulation, in increasing his strength. 
Scott finally terminated the armistice, and ordered an 
assault upon Molino del Rey. At three o'clock on the 
morning of September 8, 1847, Worth's division, with 
which was Hancock's company, advanced upon the ene- 
my's batteries and strong defenses at Molino del Rey. 
Before dawn two twenty-four pounders were placed in 
position, and opened at short range upon the solid walls 
of the defenses of that stronghold. At first there was 
no firing in response, but presently, from an unexpected 
point, grape and round shot poured upon the assailing 
column. Met by this unlooked-for attack, the column 
recoiled, with a loss of eleven officers and a considerable 
number of men killed and wounded, while an attack in 
some force was made by the Mexicans from within the 
walls. Reinforcements being rapidly thrown forward 
by General Worth, the position temporarily lost was re- 
taken, and an assault was made iipon the enemy's de- 
fenses, which were scaled or broken through by the in- 
furiated soldiers with their bayonets. While some, lifted 
by their comrades, clambered to the top of the wall, 


others battered down the main gate. Door after door 
was forced by the intrepid Americans, and, the Mexicans 
being driven back, a white flag was presently raised upon 
the parapet in token of surrender. When it is consid- 
ered that the Mexican force greatly outnumbered ours, 
besides being intrenched within stone walls, and that the 
tire from the castle of Chapultepec, standing just north of 
the Molino, raked the field within effective cannon range, 
it is to be conceded that this was one of the sharpest and 
most successful hand-to-hand struggles of the war. The 
days of drums and fifes have passed : France even has 
abolished them. But when Clarke's brigade and the 
storming-party under Wright, of Worth's division, ad- 
vanced to the attack in the foggy morning, on a smooth, 
descending plain the drums beat patriotic marches, 
while not a gun was fired until the line of battle had 
reached within two hundred yards of the enemy, and re- 
ceived his fire from an intrenched position. Our troops 
moved at the double-quick, without returning the fire, 
and drove them out of their intrenchments. This is 
mentioned as one of the latest instances which have oc- 
curred on this continent of troops advancing in line of 
battle to meet the enemy to the sound of music. In this 
attack were Longstreet, Pickett, Armistead, E. K. Smith, 
Edward Johnson, Buckner, Hancock, and many others 
since known to fame. 

Here died Martin Scott, the man to whom the treed 
coon said, " Don't shoot ! If you're Martin Scott, I'll 
come down." lie commanded the Fifth Infantry. The 
Sixth was commanded by Captain William Hoffman, 
owing to the absence of Colonel Mclntosh, who com- 
manded the brigade, Colonel Clarke being sick. 

Taking the advanced position of the enemy a rifle- 


pit our troops found themselves under heavy fire from 
stone walls twenty or thirty yards away, seemingly an 
impregnable position. Occupying this spot in a moment 
of hesitancy, they laid down, and commenced firing on 
the enemy. The only two persons observed not to lie 
down were the commanders of the Fifth and Sixth In- 
fantry, who were near to each other, and between the two 
regiments. It was certain death to stand up, isolated, 
and Captain Hoffman, representing the honor of the 
Fifth Infantry, said, " Major, you had better lie down." 
To which the officer addressed replied, " The ball was 
never molded to kill Martin Scott." In a second he was 
shot through the heart, fell, rested his head on his hat, 
handed his purse to Hoffman, saying, " For my wife," 
and expired. Then the honor of the Fifth Infantry per- 
mitted Major Scott to lie down. It is to be recorded 
that, in the reports of the officers in command during this 
engagement, the conduct of Lieutenant Hancock is hand- 
somely mentioned. Hoffman's report says, "Hancock 
behaved in the handsomest manner." 

In this battle the adjutant was killed, and Hancock 
was appointed in his place. He occupied this position 
but a brief period, however, and not long afterward was 
breveted first lieutenant "for gallant and meritorious 
conduct at Contreras and Churubusco," his brevet dating 
from the day of the battle of Churubusco, August 20, 
1847. Lieutenant Hancock was now placed in command 
of a company, chiefly composed of old soldiers of the 
Florida and other Indian wars. 

It is a notable fact in the history of this battle, as 
related by General Hancock, that, when the enemy's lines 
were taken at Molino del Hey, Lieutenant Ulysses S. 
Grant, who was regimental quartermaster in General 


Garland's brigade, which took part in the final assault, 
said to the General, u Now, take Chapultepec ! " The 
immediate capture of that stronghold was not in accord 
with General Scott's plans, though this took place in due 
course ; but the incident illustrates General Grant's pre- 
science, even at this early period in his career. 

There still remained much serious work to be ac- 
complished before the city could be gained, and before 
even the safety of our own little army could be assured. 
Through sickness and other causes General Scott's army 
had been reduced to a little over six thousand, and the 
slightest error or failure on his part might easily have 
brought the Mexicans upon him with overwhelming force. 
The strong castle of Chapultepec, with its fortified sur- 
roundings, was to be taken, and after that a barricaded 
causeway and other complicated defenses must be assailed 
before the city of Mexico could be reached. It was skill- 
ful strategy on the part of the commanding general, and 
an instance of rare heroic conduct on that of his men, 
which prevented the destruction of the American army 
and rendered it victorious. Cut off from all hope of re- 
enforcement, removed from its base of supplies, victory 
or destruction seemed the only alternatives. 

The Mexicans were active and alert in the defense. 
Men-, women, and children were constantly engaged in 
strengthening the fortifications of their beautiful city, 
and the capture could only be completed by the use of 
the utmost skill, science, and bravery. But it was ac- 
complished. Chapultepec was stormed in a style rarely 
equaled in the history of wars for strategy, cool delibera- 
tion, and elan. Our troops advanced along the cause- 
ways, over which extended the stone aqueducts which 
supplied the city with water, until they reached the Gari- 


tas of San Cosme and Belen wliicli were carried by as- 
saultSan Cosme by Worth's command, and Belen by the 
troops under Quitman and by nightfall of that terrible 
day the 13th of September the gates were won, the 
enemy driven back, and the city of the Montezumas was 
in the power of the American invaders. The resistance 
made by the Mexicans was gallant and desperate. After 
being driven from their outer works and back into the 
streets of the suburbs, they fired upon our troops from 
windows and from the roofs of the houses, and nothing 
but the indomitable courage of our men could have suc- 
ceeded in the face of such resistance. During the early 
part of the night of the 13th of September, Huger 
opened upon the city with a mortar and some heavy guns, 
and soon after General Santa Anna and his army quiet- 
ly evacuated Mexico and escaped. Scott ordered Gen- 
erals Quitman and Worth to feel their way slowly into 
the city, which was done at considerable peril, as the 
inhabitants were exasperated and desperate. But, on 
the same day, the 14th, a deputation of the city au- 
thorities repaired to Worth's headquarters, whence they 
were sent under escort to General Scott at Tacubaya. 
This deputation proposed terms of capitulation greatly 
favoring the city, the church, and the citizens, but were 
assured by General Scott that the city was in his possession, 
and no terms would be signed ; and that the magnanimity 
of a conqueror and the spirit of modern civilization alone 
would dictate the course he would pursue. Meanwhile, the 
American flag had been raised upon the palace, and, at 
eight o'clock in the morning of the day last named, the new 
conqueror of Mexico, accompanied by his staff and by 
other officers, rode in from Tacubaya, and entered the 
Grand Plaza of the city amid the acclamations of the army. 


"With the exception of a brief interval of service with 
his regiment at the city of Toluca, under the command 
of General Cadwalader, Lieutenant Hancock remained 
with the troops that occupied the city of Mexico until 
the American army was withdrawn. He was among the 
last to leave the city, with the brigade of Worth's divis- 
ion to which he belonged, after having transferred the 
capital to the Mexican authorities, lowered our flag, and 
seen that of Mexico raised over the National Palace. This 
was in 1848, in which year the treaty of peace between 
the two countries was signed at Guadalupe Hidalgo. So 
soon as this was ratified at Washington, the war was con- 
cluded, and our troops withdrawn. During the march 
from Mexico to the coast, Lieutenant Hancock acted as 
regimental quartermaster and commissary of his regiment. 
Embarking on transports, the division proceeded to New 
Orleans, and thence to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, where 
it remained until the autumn of 1848. In the distribu- 
tion of troops made that fall, Hancock's regiment was 
assigned to a position on the Upper Mississippi, Hancock 
himself going to Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien, where 
he filled the position of quartermaster. This post was 
the regimental headquarters, and here he continued until 
the spring of 1849, when he was ordered to Fort Snel- 
Ung, Minnesota, which he reached in May. He was then 
granted a five months' leave of absence, and proceeded to 
revisit his home and relations in Pennsylvania, whence he 
had been absent five years. 


After the Mexican War The Return Home A Warm Reception Flatter- 
ing Testimonial of the Pennsylvania Legislature Ordered to St. Louis 
Joins the Sixth Infantry Appointed Quartermaster Commissioned 
Captain Ordered to Florida Seminolc War Outbreak in Kansas 
Mormon Difficulties Return to Fort Bridger Expedition to Benicia, 
California Leave of Absence and Return East Ordered to Los An- 
geles, Southern California In Charge of the Military Depot 1 860-'61 : 
Outbreak of the Rebellion Excitement at Los Angeles A " Pacific 
Republic" Suggested A Fourth of July Celebration Captain Han- 
cock's Patriotic Speech He suppresses the Impending Insurrection 
Asks to be Sent on Active Service Is Ordered to the East Lands at 
New York, and reports for Duty at Washington. 

LIEUTENANT HANCOCK had entered into the Mexican 
"War with so much spirit and energy, he had so much de- 
sired to experience active service in the profession which 
he had chosen, that, although his acquaintance with actual 
warfare was but a slight one, it probably accomplished 
more for him in the way of instruction, as well as of en- 
couragement, than usually would have been the case under 
such circumstances. His experience in Mexico may be 
briefly summed up as follows : 

He fought in three general engagements and a num- 
ber of skirmishes, was slightly wounded, established a 
reputation as a brave and reliable young officer, and was 
promoted for gallantry on the field of battle. Already 
his talent for organization and his administrative abilities 
had attracted attention, in so far that, as we have seen, 


he had been appointed to act as quartermaster and com- 
missary on the return from Mexico ; and, to add to the 
achievements of the young officer in his brief episode of 
actual warfare, we have to recount the fact that in the 
reports of his immediate senior officers, he was specially 
commended. He was also particularly named in the re- 
port of Major Bonneville as to the part borne by the bat- 
talion commanded by the latter in the battle of Molino 
del Key. 

Finally, the Legislature of Pennsylvania passed a series 
of resolutions complimentary to the courage and general 
conduct of the officers and men from that State during 
the Mexican War, and among those mentioned the name 
of Hancock appears. 

It was in the spring of 1849 that Lieutenant Hancock 
took advantage of his leave of absence to revisit the home 
of his childhood. Here he was welcomed with all the 
affection and cordiality which might have been anticipated, 
not only the tenderness of his family and kindred uniting 
in this display of regard, but his townsmen receiving him 
with respect and admiration. They were proud of his 
rising fame and glory, and gave open expression to their 
friendship and esteem. 

In the following autumn Lieutenant Hancock rejoined 
his regiment, to which he had been appointed adjutant, 
being now stationed at St. Louis, Missouri, and acting 
as aide-de-camp to Brigadier-General 1ST. S. Clark, already 
named, who commanded the military department em- 
bracing that section of the country lying between the 
" Indian country of the South " and the British Posses- 
sions. The duties connected with a service of this nature 
require chiefly laborious and continuous attention to the 
business details of military life, and were of rather a 


routine character, giving little scope for adventure, and 
supplying less material for glowing account. In^this ser- 
vice, however, Lieutenant Hancock undoubtedly contrib- 
uted valuable results. Through the education which he 
had already received in the different lines of duty involved 
in his profession, he was being unconsciously trained for 
the higher and broader field of command for which he was 
destined. Particularly was it the case that he now be- 
came educated in that very important branch of military 
labor the skillful, accurate, concise, yet full and scholarly 
preparation of reports of military operations, orders, and 
all that class of writing which pertains to official records, 
reports, and correspondence. As a result, it is a fact that 
the young officer grew to be exceptionally qualified in 
the art of conveying his impressions and his ideas to 
paper, gaining that degree of accuracy in the determina- 
tion of his judgment and of facility in expression, which 
have ever since stood him in such good stead in the many 
important emergencies of his life, that have made de- 
mands upon precisely that talent and these acquirements. 

Hereafter it will be shown in this history that our 
hero has displayed not less skill, judgment, and sense 
of the proper relations of things, in his manner of wield- 
ing the pen, than he has of bravery and generalship while 
using his sword. 

On the 24th of January, 1850, Lieutenant Hancock 
was married to Miss Almira Russell, daughter of Samuel 
Russell, a merchant of St. Louis, in which city the cere- 
mony took place. It may be here declared that the 
union thus formed has proved one of the happiest. Mrs. 
Hancock, besides being a lady of acknowledged personal 
charms, has proved the possession of sterling good sense 
and of many accomplishments, and as a wife and mother 


lias nobly sustained the high and delicate claims which 
have devolved upon her in the eminent station to which 
she has been called. It is fully recognized, among those 
who have been so fortunate as to possess her acquaint- 
ance, that she has cheered and adorned her home, while, 
with her husband, gracefully dispensing its genial and 
generous hospitalities. 

Of this marriage there were born two children : Rus- 
sell, named after his maternal grandfather, now living at 
the age of thirty, and Ada Elizabeth, born February 24, 
1857, and who died March 18, 1875; the former was born 
in St. Louis, the latter at Fort Myers, Florida. 

On November 7, 1855, Lieutenant Hancock was ap- 
pointed quartermaster with the rank of captain, and was 
immediately ordered to Florida. It was at this time that 
the Florida Indians, the Seminoles, who had been trouble- 
some for some years, had commenced active hostilities, 
and a force of United States soldiers was now sent to 
that section to protect the whites. Captain Hancock was 
stationed at Fort Myers, on the river Calloosahatchee, 
and became engaged in supplying troops in the field. 
His duties here were unquestionably arduous, since the 
frequent changes in the position of the troops, in a coun- 
try so broken and impracticable for military operations, 
demanded the most constant vigilance and judgment, and 
no little fertility of resource in forwarding supplies to 
the points where they were needed. The brave and ef- 
ficient General Harney was placed in command of the 
United States forces, and, shortly after his arrival, Captain 
Hancock had under his direction some one hundred and 
fifty boats, varying in size from the canoe to the steamer, 
and by means of which he conveyed his supplies to the 
various points where they were required. 


Meanwhile, it is to be observed that the military oper- 
ations in Florida against the Seminoles were exception- 
ally perplexing and difficult, requiring constant watchful- 
ness, and, of course, involving in frequent danger those 
who had charge of the important duty connected with the 

Hardly had the troubles in Florida been settled w r hen 
there commenced that series of agitations which gradually 
led to the disorders in Kansas. When these troubles be- 
gan to assume a serious aspect, General Harney was trans- 
ferred to that department, and, upon his personal appli- 
cation, Captain Hancock was also ordered thither. He 
joined the troops at Fort Leavenw'orth, where he remained 
from August 1 to December 31, 185T, serving in the 
quartermaster's department with the efficiency which had 
now become recognized as a part of his character. He 
continued at the depot from January 1 to March 31, 1858, 
when, the Kansas troubles being over, he was ordered to 
accompany General Harney's expedition to Utah, where 
serious complications had arisen between the Mormons 
and the Gentiles. 

The accession of California as one of the results of the 
Mexican "War, and the stimulus given to emigration by 
the discovery of gold in that distant region, had attracted 
a wave of population toward the Pacific, and, as Utah 
lay in the route, the emigrants were brought in contact 
with the Mormons, who began to manifest hostility to 
the Gentiles, and even to assume an attitude of indepen- 
dence of the United States Government. In fact, in 
the beginning of 1857, Utah Territory was in a state of 
open rebellion, the Mormons trusting to the mountain 
fastnesses, which lay between them and the States, as 
their protection against that national authority which they 


were disposed to set at defiance. It was so eminently 
necessary to bring this people into subjection to the Con- 
stitution and laws of the whole country, that President 
Buchanan took summary and sufficient measures to put 
down the unnatural condition which existed. Brevet 
Brigadier-General Albert S. Johnston was sent with an 
advance detachment, and General Harney followed him 
with a reinforcement. Among the latter, Captain Han- 
cock, still on duty as quartermaster, proceeded, adminis- 
tering his department so effectually as to greatly con- 
tribute to the safety and comfort of the troops. 

Fortunately the Utah outbreak was not long-lived, and, 
it having been disposed of, Captain Hancock was ordered 
to proceed to the headquarters of the Department of 
Utah, there to join his regiment, the Sixth Infantry, which 
was expected to move into Oregon. Accordingly he 
transferred the public property in his charge to his suc- 
cessor in the quartermaster's department, and left General 
Harney 's command at Cotton wood Springs, on the 17th 
July, 1858, in company with Lieutenant-Colonel G. H. 
Grossman, Deputy Q. M. General, and Captain J. H. 
Simpson, of the Topographical Engineers, and an escort 
of sixteen soldiers of the Seventh Infantry, began their 
journey. A march of twenty-seven days brought the 
party to Fort Bridger, Utah, 709 miles distant from the 
point of departure, the journey having been accomplished 
in twenty-six days. A train of wagons was taken along 
in this overland journey, with teamsters, extra horses, 
etc., yet, such was the care and prudence with which the 
march was conducted, that they averaged more than 
twenty-six miles each day. At Fort Bridger all the com- 
panies of the Sixth Infantry were united, for the first time 
in sixteen years. Captain Hancock immediately reported 


for duty to Colonel Andrews, commanding, and was at 
once appointed regimental quartermaster. 

The destination of the regiment was now changed by 
General Johnston, who had discretionary power in the 
premises, to Benicia, California. The task which now 
devolved upon Captain Hancock, to supply means for the 
transportation and subsistence for the expedition on its 
long journey, was a most difficult one. Supplies were 
limited, the animals were in poor condition, and the 
wagons out of repair. The train of this expedition, when 
ready for the start, consisted of 128 wagons, 5 ambulances, 
1 traveling forge, and 1,000 mules. Harness, saddles, 
and other various appliances had to be repaired and in- 
spected ; quartermasters' stores selected and packed ; team- 
sters, herdsmen, and other employes hired. The entire 
business of organization of this part of the expedition and 
its inspection being the duty of the quartermaster, it will 
thus be readily seen that the position was no sinecure ; 
added to all of which, the fact of the season being far 
advanced, rendered it doubtful if the expedition would 
succeed in crossing the Sierra Nevadas, without encoun- 
tering the terrible snow-storms which occur in that region. 
On August 21st the expedition was in motion. 

An inspection of the report made by Captain Hancock 
to the Quartermaster-General, giving all the details of 
this journey, affords one sufficient subject for amazement 
in observing the degree of vigilance, energy, and arduous 
toil which must have been involved in its progress. Day 
and night it was incumbent on the Quartermaster to ex- 
ercise constant watchfulness over his charge, and how as- 
siduously this duty was fulfilled, is determined by the 
fact that, on the arrival of the expedition at Benicia, its 
entire belongings were delivered, actually in an improved 


condition, and without any important loss or accident 

An examination of the report just alluded to displays 
also a facility and comprehensive knowledge in the con- 
struction of such a document which is certainly highly 
commendable in its author. Valuable statistics ; descrip- 
tions of the country through which he marched ; a map 
of the route ; a table of distances taken by the odometer, 
and marking geographical points and dates ; the character 
of the wood, water, and grass found in each locality, with 
notes affording a vast amount of valuable general infor- 
mation concerning the geography, botany, and the other 
features of the country these are some of the elements 
of this report which display the vast amount of labor 
and painstaking which must have gone to its making. 
When one considers that it was prepared amid the cares, 
dangers, and embarrassments of this protracted and diffi- 
cult march, it becomes matter of surprise that so scien- 
tific and generally excellent a statement could have been 
made under the circumstances. 

From Fort Leavenworth to Fort Bridger the distance 
is 1,009 miles ; from Fort Bridger to the barracks at Be- 
nicia it is 1,119, making the entire distance 2,100 miles 
a journey which was performed by Captain Hancock en- 
tirely on horseback. The road lay through some of the 
wildest and most magnificent, as well as some of the 
most beautiful, scenery in America, and the statistics and 
suggestions which were set forth by him, or under his 
direction, were a valuable contribution to our knowledge 
of the country, and have since facilitated the establish- 
ment of the great improvements now uniting the oceans 
by the route across the continent. 

Having performed this important service, Captain 


Hancock awaited orders in California for some time, but, 
receiving a leave of absence, he returned to the East via 
the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and rejoined his family. 
After a short sojourn at home, he received orders to 
repair again to the Pacific coast and report for duty, and 
this time, accompanied by his family, he proceeded to 
California by way of the Isthmus of Panama. Shortly 
after his arrival on the Pacific coast, he was stationed at 
the old Spanish town of Los Angeles, in Southern Cali- 
fornia. Here he had charge of the quartermaster's 
depot at the station, from which the troops in Southern 
California and Arizona were supplied with trains and all 
the necessary aids to their subsistence and efficiency. 
The duties of this position demanded from the officer in 
charge wisdom, energy, business tact, and administrative 
ability the peculiarities of climate, the diversity of 
production, the formation of the country, the roads and 
the modes of transportation, making the task of supply- 
ing the troops in that section a vastly different one from 
a similar duty in more highly improved parts of the coun- 
try. Unlooked-for exigencies and unexpected obstacles 
were constantly arising, to meet which with skill and 
promptness, so as to promote the public service in the 
most efficient manner, and at the same time with a due 
regard for economical expenditure, required a mind of 
no ordinary resources and energy of no common degree. 
But the natural ability of Captain Hancock had, all this 
time, been educated by his experience, and, during the 
two years in which he continued in his responsible posi- 
tion, he succeeded in filling it to the full benefit of those 
dependent upon him and to the entire satisfaction of his 
superior officers. 

Los Angeles is situated in one of the most beautiful 


and picturesque regions of the Pacific coast. For sub- 
limity and variety its scenery can scarcely be surpassed. 
Flanked on the east by the coast range of mountains, 
hills, valleys, and plains of great beauty and fertility ex- 
tend from these to the sea, presenting every variety of 
landscape. The climate is delightful, invigorating, and 
healthful ; the productions of all latitudes are here pres- 
ent, at different elevations. To this country the dis- 
covery of its gold, and the opening of rich mines, had 
attracted people from all parts of the world, the greater 
number, of course, being Americans, and among them, 
as well as among the other classes of inhabitants, Captain 
Hancock was soon fortunate in establishing a reputation 
which was to be of signal service both to him and to the 
country. lie was universally liked and respected, and 
his personal influence was felt among all those with 
whom he came in contact, notwithstanding that many of 
the inhabitants, as is always the case in newly settled dis- 
tricts, were rough adventurers, not a few being outlaws 
from various parts of the civilized world. 

Such was the situation of affairs in Southern Califor- 
nia in 1860, and now it was that the first portentous rum- 
ble was heard of that discordant and confusing outbreak 
which had already begun to perplex the Eastern shore of 
our country, and which was presently to burst forth in 
all the anomalous and terrible emotion of the rebellion. 
At this time, as is well known, there were no railroads 
crossing the continent, no telegraph, no direct overland 
mails even for Butterfield's had been suspended and 
so tidings of what was being enacted in the Atlantic 
States were slowly transmitted by the dubious and con- 
stantly delayed resources of the Post-office Department, 
and by way of a circuitous route, via the Isthmus of 


Panama, which, delayed news from the East about two 
months. The agitations, therefore, which now aroused 
the populations of the Eastern States, and threw them 
into a turmoil of political disturbance, were not yet felt 
upon the Pacific Slope ; but the wave soon swept across 
the continent, and, if later in beginning, the storm was 
scarcely less violent there than at its source. Adventu- 
rers and excitable emigrants and prospectors had flowed 
into California from every section of the Union, many 
of them from the Southern country. Every shade of 
political opinion could be found among the American 
settlers. Those from the South, as was natural, sympa- 
thized with secession, even to the extent of inclining 
toward action and movement that should display this 
sympathy. They were reminded that their kindred 
and homesteads w r ere in the Southern States, to which, 
indeed, this portion of California, lying far south of 
Mason and Dixon's line, might be considered almost as 
belonging. The reckless character and incendiary dispo- 
sition of many of the population which had rushed to the 
gold regions favored a popular outbreak, and even with 
some degree of hopefulness of the success of a possible 
Disunion movement. For a time there seemed to be im- 
minent danger that such a movement might be success- 
fully undertaken, and thus this entire region, with all its 
vast wealth and promise, be swept away from the Ameri- 
can Union before even the serious struggle for supremacy 
betw r een the warring sections might fairly be said to have 

That this danger was indeed imminent will be readi- 
ly appreciated, when it is considered that besides the ele- 
ments to which we have referred, must be included also 
the old Spanish population. It was clear that this por- 


tion of the inhabitants of Lower California could feel no 
sentiment of loyalty to a government which had so re- 
cently conquered the country, and this class, being of a 
roving and adventurous disposition, might easily be de- 
pended upon to unite in any movement which should 
offer advantages to them which they did not then possess. 
To these add the considerable number of the population 
who sympathized with the South, and those others whose 
attachment to the Union was more figurative than real, and 
it will be seen that such a project as the establishment of 
an independent Pacific republic would possess attractions 
not readily to be overcome. Such, indeed, was the case, 
and it is an historical fact that, while some were ready to 
give their adherence to secession and the South, others 
inclined to raise the " Bear " flag and actually engage in 
the erection of a Pacific republic ; and it required much 
prudence, courage, and address on the part of the friends 
of the United States Government to prevent one or the 
other of these projects becoming an accomplished result. 
It was, indeed, a crisis full of danger and difficulty, 
but, fortunately, Captain Hancock and his officers, aided 
by a few staunch and influential friends of the Govern- 
ment, were equal to the emergency. Indeed, the posi- 
tion of Captain Plan cock was sufficiently critical. If the 
storm had burst, whose suspicious under-current of in- 
trigue was being made manifest, its first fury would have 
fallen upon him. The depot of military stores under his 
control, and the supplies and munitions of war which he 
guarded, were deemed a first necessity by the proposed 
insurgents, some of whom actually boasted that their first 
step in the direction which they purposed would be to 
possess themselves of this material. Captain Hancock 
was early made aware of the situation of affairs, and at 


once took measures for the protection of the integrity of 
his command. He personally appealed to the patriotism 
of his countrymen, curbed the insolence and turbulence 
of seditious aliens, and exhibited a firm and determined 
purpose which overawed those who showed a disposition 
to interfere with the authority of the Government. 

The occurrence of the 4th of July, 1861, gave an op- 
portunity to the Union men of Southern California, par- 
ticularly to those of Los Angeles, to organize a plan, whose 
successful conduct, it was hoped by Captain Hancock, 
who devised it, w r ould at once annihilate the incipient 
seeds of treason, and serve to retain that section promi- 
nently under the old flag. Determined to make such a 
display on this occasion as should effect his purposes, 
Captain Hancock ordered up from a distance of one hun- 
dred miles a squadron of United States cavalry, which, 
added to his force, and to the number of out-and-out 
Union men within reach, made a respectable procession ; 
and, certainly, all the customary features of Independence 
Day that could be undertaken were made a part of the 
Los Angeles celebration. Not the least effective of these 
was a public speech made by Captain Hancock, his first 
attempt at oratory, and which is given here in full from 
a report published in a Los Angeles paper at the time. 
It is strongly suggestive of the situation, as well as indica- 
tive of the patriotism and the oratorical powers of our 
hero at this period of his life, and is illustrative of the 
prudent firmness with which its author bore himself in 
the difficult circumstances in which he was placed : 

" We have here met to commemorate that day, of all 
among Americans the most hallowed and cherished of 
the national memories of a lifetime the Fourth of July, 
1776 ; that day when the reign of tyrants in the colo- 


nies of America closed, and the reign of reason, of fra- 
ternity, and of equal political rights began. 

u Who on this continent does not know of the great 
events which occurred on that day, the anniversary of 
which we are met here to celebrate the event so interest- 
ing to all true Americans : the Declaration of our Na- 
tional Independence ? And who among us would wish to 
see the day approach when that occasion should cease to 
be commemorated ? I will not believe that any can be 
found so destitute of patriotic pride as not to feel in his 
veins a thrilling current when the deeds of his ancestors 
in the battles of the Revolution are mentioned. 

" Can any one of us hear related the great events of 
that contest without wishing that his ancestors had been 
honorably engaged in them ? 

" Who of us can forget the names of Lexington, of 
Monmouth, of Brandywine, and Yorktown, and who can 
regret that they are descendants of those who fought there 
for the liberties we now enjoy ? 

" And what flag is that we now look to as the banner 
that carried us through that great contest and was honored 
by the gallant deeds of its defenders ? The Star Spangled 
Banner of America, then embracing thirteen pale stars, 
representing that number of oppressed colonies ; now 
thirty-four bright planets, representing that number of 
great States. To be sure, clouds intervene between us and 
eleven of that number ; but we will trust that those clouds 
will soon be dispelled, and that those great stars in the 
Southern constellation may shine forth again with even 
greater splendor than before. Let them return to us! 
We will welcome them as brothers who have been es- 
tranged, and love them the more that they were angered 
and then returned to us. 


"We have an interest in the battle-fields of those 
States not second to their own. Our forefathers fought 
there side by side with theirs ; can they, if they would, 
throw aside their claims to the memories of the great 
fields on our soil, on which their ancestry won renown ? 
No, they can not ! God forbid that they should desire it. 

" To those who, regardless of these sacred memories, 
insist on sundering this Union of States, let us, who only 
wish our birthrights preserved to us, and whose desire it 
is to be still citizens of the great country that gave us 
birth, and to live under that flag which has gained for 
us all the glorious histories we boast of, say this day : 
' Your rights we will respect ; your wrongs we will assist 
you to redress ; but the Union is a ^ecious heritage that 
we intend to preserve and defend to the last extremity.'' 

" Let us believe, at least let us trust, that our brothers, 
then, do not wish to separate themselves permanently 
from the common memories which have so long bound 
us together, but that, when reason returns and resumes 
her sway, they will prefer the brighter page of history, 
which our mutual deeds have inscribed upon the tablets 
of time, to that of the uncertain future of a new confed- 
eration, which, alas ! to them, may prove illusory and un- 

Whatever may have been the real importance of the 
incendiary opinions which for a time disturbed the politi- 
cal atmosphere of Southern California, it is certain that 
after this Fourth of July celebration little or nothing was 
heard of them, and it was generally conceded on the spot 
that the wisdom, forbearance, and calm determination of 
Captain Hancock, in the execution of what he recognized 
to be his duty to his country and his profession, were im- 
portant elements in quelling the rising spirit of disaffection. 


By this time, sufficient information of the serious na- 
ture of the outbreak in the Southern States had reached 
California to make a profound impression. As might be 
supposed, a soldier, possessing the energy, courage, and 
devoted patriotism of Hancock, would hardly remain con- 
tented in the comparatively quiet and serene position 
which he occupied at Los Angeles, and, in fact, he made 
early and earnest application to be relieved from duty on 
the Pacific coast, and to be transferred to more active 
service at the seat of war. This request was at length 
granted, and, as soon as orders arrived, Captain Hancock 
terminated his official duties at Los Angeles with his 
customary promptness and dispatch, and hastened to em- 
bark for the East, accompanied by his family. 

On the 4th of September, 1861, he landed at New 
York, and, without waiting even to visit his parents, within 
a few miles of whose home he passed en route, he reported 
himself at "Washington for active service. 


Ordered to the Quartermaster's Department Commissioned Brigadier- 
General and sent to the Front Preparation of the Army of the Po- 
tomac Occupations of the Winter of 1861-'2 Drilling the Men 
General Hancock as a Disciplinarian His Standing with his Soldiers 
Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac Beginning of the 
March on Richmond Skirmishes and Reconnoissances Battle of 
Williamsburg The Brigade wins its First Colors General Hancock 
commended in the Official Report " Hancock was Superb To-day " 
Movement to the Peninsula along the Chickahominy Battles of 
Gaines's Mill and Garnett's Hill The Change of Base to the James 
Retreat of the " Seven Days " Battle of Savage Station Arrival at 
Harrison's Landing Up the Potomac. 

AT the time Captain Hancock reported for duty at 
Washington he was thirty-eight years old. That he 
sought more active service than that in which he had 
been recently engaged, was not alone for love of his pro- 
fession and from a natural and proud ambition to seek 
distinction in the service, but from principle. 

He drew his sword in maintenance of those political 
theories in which he had been raised, and from love for 
his whole country and for the flag. It was, indeed, at 
this time that he wrote, in a letter to a friend : " My 
politics are of a practical kind the integrity of the coun- 
try, the supremacy of the Federal Government, an honor- 
able peace or none at all." Fortunately for the cause, 
the nature of the important services which Captain Han- 
cock had already rendered, and his marked ability and 


full appreciation of a soldier's duty, had been recognized 
by his former commanders, Worth, Harney, and others, 
and were well known to the army and to the country. 

In the beginning, it was rightly felt that the success 
of campaigns depends as much upon the efficiency of the 
quartermaster's department certainly as upon any other ; 
and for this reason, and because of his special experience, 
and his administrative and organizing qualities, Captain 
Hancock was at first assigned to the post of chief quar- 
termaster on the staff of General Robert Anderson, who 
had been placed in command of the Union forces in Ken- 
tucky. But he was destined to a far more brilliant ca- 
reer, and, even while preparing to obey this order, Gen- 
eral McClellan, who appreciated Hancock's high military 
talents, proposed his name for the appointment of brig- 
adier-general. The commission was issued by order of 
President Lincoln on the 23d of September, 186L It 
was at once accepted, and Brigadier-General Hancock 
entered upon active duty. 

It is esteemed a remarkable instance in the life of an 
officer, whose duty had hitherto consisted, chiefly, in the 
performance of purely official and administrative func- 
tions in the position of a quartermaster in the United 
States army, and with the rank of captain, that he should 
be transferred at one step to such high rank, and ordered 
at once on active military service. No greater compli- 
ment, perhaps, has ever in the history of the United 
States army been paid to a record chiefly accomplished in 
times of peace. To be sure, Hancock was no novice in 
the art of war ; his experience had been varied and ardu- 
ous in Mexico, in the Seminole War in Florida, and 
among the hostile Indians of the West. Through all his 
military life he had been favored by circumstances calcu- 



lated to inform him in all the elements necessary to a 
soldier's career, and to draw upon all the qualities which 
he might possess calculated to be available to him there- 
after. General Hancock at once bent all his energies to 
aid in the organization of the Army of the Potomac. It 
is more difficult to superinduce thorough discipline in 
the Volunteer service than in the Regular army. "With 
all the superior intelligence, patriotism, and self-reliance 
of such soldiers, it is difficult at first to inaugurate and 
sustain in such an army a high degree of efficiency ; but 
this is essential, and the young organizer and commander 
of the Army of the Potomac found in General Hancock, 
as also in other West Point graduates, capable coadjutors. 
And here it is proper to state that, throughout the war, 
General Hancock never commanded any but volunteer 

Toward the close of September General McClellan 
held the first grand review of the Army of the Potomac, 
the President being present, when seventy thousand men, 
the largest number assembled up to this time, were ma- 
noeuvred. Meanwhile, additional troops were constantly 
arriving and being dispatched to appropriate positions. 
General Hancock's brigade, the first of Smith's division, 
consisted of the following regiments : the Fifth Wiscon- 
sin, Colonel Amasa Cobb ; Sixth Maine, Colonel Hiram 
Enrnham; Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, Colonel William 
W. Irwin ; Fourth New York, Colonel Francis L. Yin- 
ton ; in all, four thousand men. 

Soon after the brigade was organized, its camp was re- 
moved to a position in front of the Chain Bridge road near 
Lewinsville, where it remained until the embarkation for 
the Peninsula. In the following spring, on the advance 
of our forces beyond the Potomac, the enemy retired be- 


fore them with some slight skirmishing, but without any 
engagement of importance. The nearness and boldness 
of the enemy, however, were indicated by these colli- 
sions, and they had the effect of familiarizing the men of 
both sides with danger. Occupying an advanced posi- 
tion, Hancock's troops bore their full share in these skir- 
mishes, and were effective at once in deterring the enemy 
from foraging raids and in obtaining much that had else 
been bestowed to their comfort. 

On the 21st of October General Hancock took part 
in a reconnoissance in force from the camp. In this both 
infantry and artillery were employed, and the movement 
resulted satisfactorily. 

The time until spring was devoted by the entire vol- 
unteer army in drilling, and instruction in the art of war, 
many of both officers and men being, of course, new to 
the service, and having everything to learn that might 
render them efficient. It was during this time that Gen- 
eral Hancock, through the exercise of the strong self- 
reliance, firmness, and address, which he always displayed 
to such an eminent degree, succeeded in establishing 
such relations with his officers and men as thenceforward 
characterized his military career. In fact, Hancock ex- 
celled in the exact qualities required by his important 
position at the beginning of the war, and he succeeded 
in a marvelous degree in inaugurating military authority 
and discipline, and yet in such a way as to inspire love 
and respect for his presence to so great an extent that 
his very name thereafter stirred the enthusiasm of his 
troops like the tones of a trumpet. Officers and men 
found him to be exact and unyielding in requiring sub- 
ordination, in military discipline, and in the prompt and 
faithful performance of duty. Sometimes, on the march 


and on the field of battle, lie was impetuous and stern in 
the enforcement of his orders ; but combined with these 
habitudes of command he displayed the most inflexible 
justice and impartiality, and a warm and generous appre- 
ciation and acknowledgment of service well performed. 
He aimed to administrate the affairs of his command 
with absolute fairness and justice. Those who were 
most intimate with him socially received from him the 
same official treatment with those whom he only knew as 
belonging to his command. ]S"o officer or private ever 
preferred a complaint which did not receive thorough 
and prompt investigation ; and it was a well-recognized 
fact that he was as prompt to redress the wrongs of a 
private soldier as those of an officer in high position. It 
was also a characteristic of General Hancock that he was 
as active and exact in obeying the orders of his military 
superiors as he was in requiring obedience from his sub- 
ordinates. This inflexible maintenance of justice, both 
to those under his command and to the interest of the 
public service, no doubt made for General Hancock some 
enemies in his various commands, but it is acknowledged 
that in very few instances did he ever give reasonable 
grounds for complaint. He treated all impartially, and, 
if his requirements were ever severe and strict, or his 
reproofs of delinquencies stern and prompt, these were 
such as the very nature of the military service de- 

During the winter of 1861-' 2 General Hancock and 
his subordinate officers were so diligent in the instruction 
and drill of his brigade, that when, in the spring of 1862, 
the Army of the Potomac landed on the peninsula formed 
by the Chesapeake Bay and the James River, which be- 
came the theatre of the first grand operations of the war, 


his brigade was one of the most complete and effective 
in the army, and at once came to the front. 

Shortly after it landed at Fortress Monroe, Smith's 
division, to which it was attached, was assigned to the 
Fourth Army Corps. 

Its first serious conflict with the enemy was in the 
action at Lee's Mills, on Warwick Creek, April 16, 1862, 
when it took part in the attack on that position by Smith's 
division. A light skirmish had previously occurred at 
Young's Mills, in the progress of a reconnoissance made 
from Newport News by General Hancock, but in this 
affair there was little that was noteworthy. Subsequently, 
the brigade was hotly engaged in several severe skirmishes 
during the operations in front of Yorktown, and in which 
it lost a considerable number of killed and wounded. 

In the march from Lee's Mills to Williamsburg, May 
4, 1862, and during the operations at that point, General 
Hancock was in command of Davidson's brigade of 
Smith's division, in addition to his own. The connection 
of General Hancock with the battle of Williamsburg, and 
his importance in relation to the general action, give good 
reason for some description of a part of this engagement. 
"With a comparatively small force, numbering less than 
2,000 men, he fought and won an important action, which 
really resulted in the immediate evacuation of Williams- 
burg and its works by the enemy ; while it is a fact that 
such of our troops as were engaged against the enemy's 
right met with repeated repulses, and at the close of the 
day had gained no substantial advantage. The force han- 
dled by General Hancock in this engagement consisted of 
five regiments of infantry, the Fifth Wisconsin, Sixth 
Maine, Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, of his own brigade, Sev- 
enth Maine, a portion of the Thirty-third New York Yol- 


unteers, of Davidson's brigade, and Wheeler's and Cowan's 
batteries, both from New York, in all, less than 2,000 men. 
The enemy sent about 5,000 men to drive Hancock's com- 
mand from Queen's Run ; but such was his success in re- 
pelling them that the attacking force became alarmed lest 
their communications up the Peninsula might be cut off, 
and this apprehension doubtless caused the retreat of the 
night of the 5th of May. Hancock's loss in the battle of 
Williamsburg was 126 in killed and wounded. The fact 
of such a loss from his small number showed that the 
fight was close, while the additional fact that the enemy's 
loss was from 500 to 700 in killed, wounded, and prisoners 
in this engagement, and that he was put to flight, shows 
that the fighting was effective. In regard to General 
Hancock's connection with this battle, General McClellan, 
in his published Report, page 185, says: "Being satisfied 
that the result of Hancock's engagement was to give us 
possession of the decisive point of the battle-field, during 
the night I countermanded an order for the advance of 
the divisions of Sedgwick and Richardson." 

This was the first hard fighting of the brigade, and 
its conduct was creditable to both the men and their 
commander. In the morning of the battle a portion of 
the force received a scathing fire from the enemy, and 
retired, in obedience to orders, to gain a crest which Gen- 
eral Hancock had chosen for his line of battle. This 
movement, always difficult under the fire of the enemy, 
was executed with great steadiness and coolness, and 
when the enemy advanced to the foot of the crest, not 
fifty paces from our line, and delivered a heavy fire upon 
our troops, they were met with such spirit and their fire 
returned with such deadly effect that they fled from the 
field, routed and dismayed. On this battle-field was cap- 


tured the first color taken by tlie Army of the Potomac, 
and it is proper to state that so high an appreciation did 
General McClellan have of the results of Hancock's 
action that he personally thanked each regiment, and di- 
rected that they should be honored by having the name 
" Williamsburg " emblazoned on their colors. The re- 
port of the commander-in-chief as to this action says : 
"At 11 A.M. General Smith received orders from Gen- 
eral Sumner to send one brigade across a dam on our 
right, and occupy a redoubt on the left of the enemy's 
line. Hancock's brigade was selected for this purpose, 
crossed the dam, took possession of the first redoubt, and, 
afterward finding a second one, took and occupied that 
also, and sent for ree'nf orcements, to enable him to advance 
further and take the next redoubt, which commanded the 
plain between his position and Fort Magruder, and would 
have enabled him to take in reverse and cut the com- 
munications of the troops engaged against Generals 
Hooker and Kearney. The enemy soon began to show 
himself in strength before Hancock, and, as his rear and 
flank were somewhat exposed, he repeated his request for 
reinforcements. General Smith gave the order to reen- 
force, but each time the order was countermanded at the 
moment of execution, General Sumner not being willing to 
weaken the center. At length, in reply to General Han- 
cock's repeated messages for more troops, General Sum- 
ner sent him an order to fall back to his former position, 
the execution of which order General Hancock deferred 
as long as possible, being unwilling to give up the advan- 
tage already gained, and fearing to expose his command 
by such a movement. ... As heavy firing was heard 
in the direction of General Hancock's command, I or- 
dered General Smith to proceed with his two remain- 


ing brigades to support that part of tlic line. . . . Be- 
fore Generals Smith and Naglee could reach the field 
of General Hancock's operations, although they moved 
with great rapidity, he had been confronted by a superior 
force. Feigning to retreat slowly, he waited their onset, 
and then turned upon them, and, after some terrific mus- 
ketry firing, he charged them with the bayonet, routing 
and dispersing their whole force." (Hancock's order 
was, "Gentlemen, we must give them the bayonet 
Charge ! ") " This," adds McClellan, " was one of the 
most brilliant engagements of the war ; and General Han- 
cock merits the highest approval for the soldierly quali- 
ties displayed, and his perfect appreciation of the vital 
importance of his position in putting an end to all opera- 
tions here. All the troops who had been engaged slept 
on the muddy field without shelter and many without 
food." (See McClellan's Eeport, pages 181-183.) 

After the battle of " Williamsburg," the Army of the 
Potomac advanced up the Peninsula to the Chickahominy, 
a river that rises in the hilly grounds northwest of Rich- 
mond, and flowing southeast, almost parallel with the 
Pamunkey, suddenly turns with a short bend to the south 
about midway between the James and the York, and 
debouches into the former some dozen miles above "Wil- 
liamsburg. At about this time, General McClellan, with 
the President's consent, organized two additional army 
corps Fifth and Sixth and Smith's division, to which 
Hancock's brigade was attached, was included in the 
Sixth, General William B. Franklin commanding. 

The next close encounter of Hancock's brigade with 
the enemy was in the action of Garnett's Hill, June 27, 
1862, on the right bank of the Chickahominy. In this 
fight his brigade, in conjunction with several other regi- 


ments and some batteries of artillery, all under Hancock's 
command, repelled a strong attack of the enemy in a 
battle of less than two hours' duration. In this action 
the brigade lost quite heavily. It occurred on the same 
day that the main portion of the army waseo severely 
defeated at Gaines's Mill, on the left bank of the Chicka- 
hominy. Only one division of the Sixth Corps Slocum's 
took part in the battle of Gaines's Mill ; while the other 
division Smith's was held on the right bank of the 
stream near Garnett's Farm, to prevent the enemy from 
breaking through our lines at that point, seizing the 
bridge, and crossing the river, thereby separating our 
army in two parts. The fight made by Hancock's com- 
mand at Garnett's Hill derived its chief importance from 
the fact that it prevented such a disaster as would have 
resulted from a separation of our army by the enemy. 

" Hooker's fight," says Swinton, " was really quite 
unnecessary, for the difficult obstacles against which he 
had to contend might have been easily turned by the 
right. This was actually done by Hancock, who, with 
slight loss, determined the issue " (Swinton, page 118). 
It ought also to be remembered that Hooker fought un- 
der Sumner's orders, and fought splendidly. 

The Chickahominy River, along the valley of which 
McClellan advanced upon Richmond, is a sinuous stream, 
flowing through dense forests and bordered by swampy 
land, very impracticable 'for military roads; besides this, 
it overflowed its banks during this march. If bridges 
had been built across the Chickahominy high enough to 
avoid the floods existing at that time, the battle of Five 
Forks never could have ended in disaster. In the terri- 
ble state of the roads, produced by the heavy rains and 
the overflow of the river, it required amazing care ancl 


tact on the part of the officers to effect the advance move- 
ment, but both officers and men proved equal to the diffi- 
culties that they had to encounter. Space will not permit 
the entering into any description of the direct movements 
of McClellan's army in its march on Richmond. The whole 
plan and its later actions are so inextricably mingled with 
political questions and the administration at "Washington, 
features of history with which this work has no concern, 
that they demand no consideration here, particularly as 
they involve no question concerning General Hancock 
necessary to enter into here. 

Having determined to change his base of operations 
to the James River, General McClellan fixed the 26th of 
June, 1862, as the date for his advance ; but on this day 
the enemy, which had been reenforced by Stonewall 
Jackson, attacked him in force. This fight inaugurated 
the famous and terrible movement known as the " Seven 
Days," and which began on the 28th of June. The 
enemy on that morning attacked the rear-guard of Han- 
cock's brigade at Golding's Farm, a point held by it. 
This attack was handsomely repulsed. 

On the 29th the brigade participated in the engage- 
ment of Savage Station, where General Hancock com- 
manded his own and Davidson's brigade. During the 
night march from White Oak Swamp to the James Riv- 
er, Hancock commanded the advance of the rear-guard of 
the Sixth Corps, at a time when it was supposed that the 
enemy had interposed between our troops and the James 
River, and when it was momentarily expected that his col- 
umn would be attacked on the road. It is but justice to 
Hancock's brigade to say that, at the end of the seven days 
(when it moved into its position at Harrison's Landing), 
during which time it was constantly exposed to the ene- 


my by daylight and in its night marches, it presented an 
unblenching front, and, so far was it from demoraliza- 
tion, that the next morning, when called upon, it was 
ready to move to the front of our lines and offer battle 
to the enemy. Hancock's brigade had no further active 
service on the Peninsula, and accompanied the other 
troops ordered up the Potomac. 


Movement from Harrison's Landing to Acquia Creek and Alexandria, to 
join General Pope Hancock's Brigade at Ccntrevillc Defeat and 
Demoralization of Pope's Army The Capital in Danger General 
McClellan placed in Command of the Defenses around Washington 
Battle of Antictam General Hancock made Commander of the First 
Division, Second Army Corps, on the Field of Battle Loss at Antietam 
The Army delayed by the Want of Clothing and Supplies. 

ON the 23d of August, 1862, General Hancock's 
brigade embarked with the rest of the Sixth Corps at For- 
tress Monroe, whence the troops were transferred to 
Acquia Creek and Alexandria to join the army of Gen- 
eral Pope. The Sixth Corps did not, however, partici- 
pate in the campaign, its operations consisting merely in 
marching from the vicinity of Alexandria to Centreville, 
where it met Pope's retreating army. The corps occu- 
pied the intrenchments at that position during the night 
of August 30, 1862, and the following morning ; it then 
moved back to the line of defenses on the south side of 
the Potomac near "Washington, where it remained in 
camp until the opening of the Maryland campaign, which 
terminated at Antietam. 

This movement was the result of an order issued by 
General Halleck, newly appointed Commander-in-chief, 
and which was conveyed by telegraph to General McClel- 
lan. It was briefly to withdraw his entire army from the 


Peninsula to Acquia Creek, and join the army of General 

The situation of the army, and indeed that of the 
whole country, at this time was appalling. General Pope 
had been defeated and discomfited, and his broken bat- 
talions were all that lay between Lee and Washington. 
The capital itself was in peril, and the most serious rumors 
spread through the country and alarmed the nation. The 
movements of Lee up the Potomac seemed to portend 
either the invasion of Maryland, or possibly the capture 
of Washington, and at length, forced to an act of ac- 
knowledgment, General Halleck recalled McClellan and 
put him in command, begging that he would assist in 
this crisis with his ability and his experience. The news 
of McClellan's restoration spread rapidly through the 
army, and restored the morale of the demoralized force. 
The army was immediately put in motion, the process of 
reorganization being continued during the march. This 
process was in no slight degree aided and encouraged by 
the excellent example of the Sixth Corps, to which Gen- 
eral Hancock's brigade belonged. The perfect order and 
magnificent bearing of these troops presented a model 
which told favorably upon the reorganization of tho 
whole body. 

The Sixth Corps was engaged in the battle of South 
Mountain, or rather in the two actions which made Up 
that engagement, and in which Hancock's brigade ac- 
tively participated. 

After Crampton's Gap and Turner's Gap, the passes 
through South Mountain, had been carried, three days 
before Antietam, the Sixth Corps, with Hancock's brigade 
in the advance, pressed forward and arrived on that now 
celebrated battle-field at about ten o'clock on the morning 


of September ITtli. Smith's division, to which Hancock's 
brigade belonged, at once went into action to support the 
right wing of the army, which, under General Sumner, 
had been badly shattered, and was now hard pressed by 
the enemy.* At the moment General Plancock's line of 
battle was formed, and just before he gave the order to 
move under fire, he addressed a few words to his brigade, 
telling them in substance that he knew he could depend 
upon their steadiness and gallantry in the struggle before 
them, which would undoubtedly be a fierce one, and call- 
ing upon them to fight with their accustomed valor upon 
this field, which he hoped might prove the one to termi- 
nate the war. These few words from the General seemed 
to put officers and men upon their metal ; and, when the 
order was given to advance, the brigade swept forward 
in quick time, and struck the enemy just as he was attack- 
ing some of our unsupported batteries in the corn-field at 
our right, near the Dunker church, which stands about a 
mile northward of the village of Sharpsburg on the 
Hagerstown road. 

It was but the work of a few moments to push the 
enemy back into the woods from which he had emerged 
to charge our batteries, and by this movement the latter 
were undoubtedly saved, for the onset upon them was 
determined, and there was not a single regiment of in- 

* General Sumner was, in fact, badly beaten, and his force terribly cut 
up ; but this determined old soldier persisted in retaining the command. 
Urged by both Generals Hancock and Franklin to attack the enemy, he 
stubbornly refused ; sent Slocum's division to rcenforce Burnside ; and, by 
forcing General Sedgwick to take his division into action in solid column, 
instead of with an interval between his brigades, as that general desired 
(which would keep them at supporting distance, without endangering the 
whole, on the repulse of the advance), actually destroyed the value of his 


fantry within supporting distance of them when Han- 
cock's brigade came into action. As the force so promptly 
driven back from our batteries were Stonewall Jackson's 
men, the reader will infer that it was no child's play. 

Our line, after this engagement, was so firmly estab- 
lished on that part of the field, that the enemy did not 
again assail it with infantry, although it suffered con- 
siderably from the artillery fire at grape-shot range. 
These operations largely contributed to the victory 
gained upon that hard-fought field a victory which might 
have been sooner achieved, and more complete in its 
results, but for the unaccountable delay of the officer 
having command of the left wing of our army in obey- 
ing the repeated orders of the Commanding General to 
cross Antietam Creek and assail the enemy's right. The 
battle of Antietam arrested General Lee's march of in- 
vasion, and compelled him to retire across the Potomac 
into Virginia. No military man doubts that, had this 
advantage been followed up, very different results from 
those that occurred might have crowned the campaign. 
The superseding of General McClellan, and the events 
which ensued, are well known to history, and have been 
frequently and sufficiently criticised. 

The operations of the Sixth Corps on the bloody but 
victorious field of Antietam closed General Hancock's 
official action with the gallant brigade, which he had un- 
interruptedly commanded from the time when he had 
organized and trained it, in September, 1861. The some- 
what abrupt character of that termination occurred in 
this wise : About two o'clock r. M. of the day of battle 
the 17th Hancock had been directed by General Mc- 
Clellan in person to proceed to a point some distance to 
the left of our line of battle, and assume command of 


Richardson's division of the Second Army Corps, that 
brave general having been mortally wounded on the 
morning of this terrible day. Although this transfer 
on the field of battle to a higher command, by selection 
of the General-in-chief, was highly complimentary to 
General Hancock, and placed him in a more prominent 
and important position, yet it was a severe trial to his 
sensibilities to be separated from " Hancock's Brigade," 
as it was known throughout the army and the country, 
and by which name it was familiar during its existence. 
He had formed, drilled, and disciplined it ; had molded 
it into a perfect condition ; had led it to its first " baptism 
of blood " ; had commanded it in many actions, and had 
never seen it abandoned or demoralized in the darkest 
hours of the Peninsula campaign. He knew personally 
every officer and almost every soldier in it, was warmly 
attached to them all, and he followed its after career with 
intense solicitude, proud of the glorious part it bore in 
the splendid storming of the heights of Fredericksburg, 
its desperate fighting at Marye's Heights a few days after- 
ward, its magnificent assault upon the works at Rap- 
pahannock Station, November 7, 1863, its brilliant 
conduct in the campaigns of 1863-' 4 with the Army of 
the Potomac and in the Valley of the Shenandoah. A 
military authority writes on this subject as follows : " I 
shall never forget the first meeting I witnessed of General 
Hancock and his old brigade after he had been trans- 
ferred from it at Antietam. It occurred near Falmouth, 
Virginia, in the spring of 1863. The Sixth Corps 
was marching past the camp of Hancock's division of 
the Second Corps, during General Burnside's move- 
ment known as the 'Mud March.' The brigade had 
halted for a rest near General Hancock's headquarters, 


and sent word to the General that they had come to see 
him. He mounted his horse and rode over to meet his 
old comrades. Upon his appearance among them, officers 
and men broke out into cheer after cheer. Caps were 
thrown into the air, and every manifestation of pleasure 
was exhibited at the sight of the commander who had 
first taught them to be soldiers and first led them into 

The First Division, Second Army Corps, to which 
General Hancock was assigned as commander on the 
field of Antietam, September 17, 1862, was composed of 
three brigades, commanded respectively by Brigadier- 
General Thomas Francis Meagher (the Irish Brigade), 
Brigadier-General John C. Caldwell, and Colonel John 
K. Brooke, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers. It 
contained many of the best regiments in the service, 
and numbered among its officers some of the brightest 
and most gallant spirits in the army. Prominent among 
these may be mentioned General Francis L. Barlow, then 
colonel of the Sixth New York Yolunteers, afterward 
major-general of volunteers, commanding the First Di- 
vision, Second Corps [he was, after the war, in 1872, 
Attorney-General of the State of New York] ; Colonel 
Henry B. McKeen, Eighty-first Pennsylvania Yolunteers, 
afterward killed at the battle of Cold Harbor, June 5, 
1864; Colonel Nelson A. Miles, Sixty-first New York 
Yolunteers: after Colonel Barlow's promotion to be 
brigadier-general, he was made major-general of volun- 
teers, commanding the First Division of the Second 
Corps, and, 1872, Colonel of the Fifth Tlnited States In- 
fantry ; Colonel Edward E. Cross, Fifth New Hamp- 
shire Yolunteers, who was killed at Gettysburg ; Colonel 
S. K. Zook, afterward promoted to be brigadier-general 


of volunteers, also killed at Gettysburg ; Colonel John 
R. Brooke, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, pro- 
moted before the close of the war to be brigadier-gen- 
eral, and, in 1872, Lieutenant-Colonel of the Third United 
States Infantry. There were many others, whose daring, 
courage, coolness, intelligence, and promptitude in the 
execution of orders, imparted great efficiency to the divis- 
ion. "When General Hancock assumed the command of 
this division, it had just distinguished itself by a tremen- 
dous assault upon those portions of the enemy's lines 
known in the descriptions of the battle of Antietam as 
the " sunken road " and " Piper's house," which points 
it had carried after a stern and bloody struggle. In the 
" sunken road," especially, the fighting had been so fierce 
and obstinate that, when the enemy gave way, their dead 
lay in such large numbers as to cause them to appear as 
if their whole line of battle had perished. The division 
was under a sharp musketry fire when General Hancock 
joined it. As rapidly as possible, he set himself to mak- 
ing the acquaintance of the brigade and regimental com- 
manders, and then to taking measures for preparing the 
lines for the attack which, he had been informed, was to 
be made upon the enemy's position at four o'clock that 
afternoon. The attack, however, w r as not ordered, and 
the enemy retreated the same night from the field and 
recrossed the Potomac. 

The loss of this division at Antietam amounted to 
five thousand men. 

The battle of Antietam, or, as the Confederates called 
it, Sharpsburg, was fought upon a piece of territory 
forming a sort of peninsula made by the Potomac River 
and Antietam Creek, with the village of Sharpsburg 
near its center. General Lee had chosen the ground and 


invited the battle. There it was stubbornly contested, 
and, although the victory was with the Union forces, no 
immediate results followed, except the withdrawal of the 
Confederate army from "Maryland. 

The losses at Antietam were 2,010 killed, and 9,407 
wounded, and more than 1,000 missing, aggregating 
12,469. Besides this sum, 12,000 of the Union troops 
were captured at Harper's Ferry, where Halleck had 
retained them, against the advice of General McClellan, 
as being in " a position of strategic importance," whereas 
it was only important as a trap for its occupants. As 
Lee had retreated to the south side of the Potomac 
on the night of the 18th of September, our army was 
eo disposed as to be ready to follow him after burying 
its dead, disposing of its wounded, and obtaining needed 
supplies of clothing, etc., of most of which the army was 
exceedingly destitute. 


Encampment of the Second Corps Harper's Ferry Rcconnoissance, and Skir- 
mishing at Charlestown March to the Rappahannock Final Removal 
of General McClellan Replaced by General Burnside The Army 
before Fredericksburg Waiting for Pontoons Battle of Fredericks- 
burg Gallant Assault on Marye's Heights by Hancock's Division 
Repulse of the Union Forces Retreat across the Rappahannock 
Losses in General Hancock's Division The " Mud March " Removal 
of General Burnside General Joseph Hooker in Command In Win- 
ter Quarters. 

ON the 19th of September, the Second Corps, in which 
General Hancock commanded the first division, marched 
to Harper's Ferry, where it lay encamped until the move- 
ment southward to "Warrenton, and thence to Freder- 
icksburg, in October and November. In the mean time, 
however, General Hancock made an important recon- 
noissance from Harper's Ferry to Charlestown, Virginia, 
where he had a sharp skirmish with the enemy, who fell 
back on Winchester. This reconnoissance was made 
with a mixed command of cavalry, artillery, and infantry, 
about six thousand strong, and was accompanied by Gen- 
eral McClellan in person. Its object having been accom- 
plished, General McClellan ordered Hancock to return 
to camp, and this was effected without disturbance on 
the following morning. 

A period of discouraging delay now followed, while 
the army waited for blankets, shoes, and other articles of 


clothing, without which it was impossible to march. The 
movement began on the 1st of November, when the 
Army of the Potomac left Harper's Ferry and its vicini- 
ty for the Rappahannock. During the progress of this 
movement General McClellan was again removed from 
his command. Late on the night of November 7th, 
amidst a heavy snow-storm, a special messenger arrived 
post haste from "Washington, and repaired to the tent of 
General McClellan at Rectortown. He was the bearer 
of the following dispatch, which he handed to the com- 
mander of the army : 


" WASHINGTON, November 5, 1862. 

" GENERAL ORDER No. 182 : 

" By direction of the President of the United States, 
it is ordered that Major-General McClellan be relieved 
from the command of the Army of the Potomac, and 
that Major-General Burnside take command of that army. 

" By order of the Secretary of War. 
"E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant- Adjutant- General" 

It chanced that General Burnside was at that moment 
with McClellan in his tent. Opening the dispatch, and 
reading it without a change of countenance or of voice, 
McClellan passed the paper to his successor, saying as he 
did so : " Well, Burnside, you are to command the 
army." General McClellan was ordered to proceed to and 
report by letter from Trenton, New Jersey. He is now 
(1880) a resident of that city as Governor of the State of 
New Jersey. There is reason to believe that General 
Burnside himself was strongly opposed to the removal of 
General McClellan, and that it was with unfeigned reluc- 


tance that he assumed the command of the army.* Swin- 
ton says : " The moment chosen for his removal was an 
inopportune and an ungracious one, for never had McClel- 
lan acted with such vigor and rapidity, never had he shown 
so much confidence in himself or the army in him ; and it 
is a notable fact that not only was the whole body of the 
army, rank and file, as well as the officers, enthusiastic in 
their affection for his person, but that the very gentleman 
who was appointed his successor was the strongest oppo- 
nent of his removal." In his testimony before " the Com- 
mittee on the Conduct of the "War " General Burnside said, 
with honorable frankness : " After getting over my sur- 
prise and shock, etc., I told General Buckingham that it 
was a matter that required very serious thought ; that I 
did not want the command ; that it had been offered me 
twice before ; and that I did not feel that I could take it. 
I told them (his staff) what my views were with refer- 
ence to my ability to exercise such a command, which 
views I had always unreservedly expressed, that I was 
not competent to command such a large army as this. I 
had said the same thing over and over again to the Presi- 
dent and Secretary of War, and also that, if things could be 
satisfactorily arranged with General McClellan, I thought 
he could command the Army of the Potomac better than 
any other general in it " (" Eeport of the Committee on 

* This was the situation in a nutshell : McClellan, with one hundred 
and twenty thousand men, and having secured South Mountain by his cav- 
alry, opposed Longstreet with forty-two thousand on one side of the moun- 
tain, and Stonewall Jackson with about as many on the other. McClellan's 
plan, known to the Government at Washington, was to attack and destroy 
Longstreet's army, then fall upon Jackson, and, having defeated both forces 
conceded by the best critics to have been a perfectly feasible conclusion 
to move upon Richmond, when the war would have indubitably ended then 
and there. At this juncture McClellan was superseded for what reason ? 


the Conduct of the War," Yol. i, page 650). But things 
could not be satisfactorily arranged with General McClel- 
lan ; he was known to be a Democrat of conservative opin- 
ions, and that was his disqualification, for, although it was 
known that he had served and would serve the country 
and the cause of the Union faithfully, it was also foreseen 
that the general who should terminate the war success- 
fully would gain an overshadowing popularity with the 
people, and it was important to the party in power either 
that he should be in harmony with their political views, 
or be a man of such an accommodating disposition as to 
be easily bent to their purpose. It is improbable that 
General Burnside would have proved sufficiently pliable, 
but failure of success left him untried in that respect.* 

After a delay of ten days at "Warrenton, abandoning 
all of McClellan's plans, the march of the army was con- 
tinued to the Rappahannock, down which stream it moved 
via Falmouth to a position opposite the town of Freder- 
icksburg, which stands on the left or west bank of that 
river. Burnside tried to mask his movements by threaten- 
ing an advance on Gordonsville ; but Lee soon penetrated 
his design, and marched in a line almost parallel with his 
adversary. General Sumner's advance reached Falmouth 

* Among other baseless fabrications concerning General Hancock, one 
relates that he conspired with others of the officers under McClellan's com- 
mand to resist the Government at Washington, and retain that general in 
his position. A curious coincidence, in connection with this, exists in the 
fact that, while General Hancock reproved certain young officers who, in his 
presence, ventured to use threatening language in regard to McClellan's re- 
moval by saying sternly, " Gentlemen, we are serving no one man, we are 
serving our country," General McClellan himself, under similar circum- 
stances, and at the same time, used almost the identical language cmploj-ed 
by General Hancock. His words were, " Gentlemen, please remember that 
we are here to serve the interests of no one man. We arc here to serve 
our country." 


November 17th, and designed to cross the river to Fred- 
ericksburg ; but, the bridges having been burned, he had 
only an artillery duel with the Confederate forces which 
were on the opposite bank. Our pontoons, by some neg- 
lect, had not arrived, and the army was kept in waiting 
for want of them for more than a week, until Lee had 
ample time to concentrate his forces at Fredericksburg 
in order to dispute the crossing of the river by Burnside's 

The position of General Lee was a strong one, and he 
had time so to strengthen and to dispose of his forces 
as to make a direct assault upon it across a tide-water 
river an almost hopeless undertaking. The town of Fred- 
ericksburg is chiefly built of brick, and its site slopes 
gently up from the river to an elevation or ridge called 
Marye's Heights. These heights afforded commanding 
positions for the batteries of the enemy, and long ranges 
of stone fences running parallel with the line of defenses 
secured good protection for the infantry. In advance 
of these, earthworks were thrown up, extending at inter- 
vals to nearly a mile above the city and about three miles 
below it. No very active operations were commenced 
against Fredericksburg until the night of December 10th 
and morning of the llth, when our army began throwing 
pontoon bridges over the river opposite and below the 
town. On the 13th, the army crossed in the face of a 
terrible fire from the enemy, and a fierce battle began. 
To the Second Corps, to which Hancock's division be- 
longed, was allotted the task of storming the works of 
Marye's Heights, the powerful position already described 
just in the rear of the town, and which was defended by 
large masses of troops and many batteries of artillery. 
In the assault which followed, General Hancock led his 


division through such a fire as has rarely been encoun- 
tered in warfare. The men forced their way with fearful 
loss within fifteen or twenty paces of the fatal stone wall 
at the foot of the Heights, but found it impossible to 
carry the position, although gallantly supported by other 
divisions of the Second Corps and other troops sent to 
aid them. Still they did not relinquish the ground, but 
held it under a murderous musketry and artillery fire, 
until late in the night, when they were relieved by fresh 
troops. Of this assault, an historian writes : " Braver men 
never smiled at death than those who climbed Marye's 
Hill that fatal day. Their ranks, even in the process of 
formation, were plowed through and torn to pieces by 
Rebel batteries, and, after at heavy cost they had reached 
the foot of the hill, they were confronted by a solid stone 
wall four feet high, from behind which a Confederate 
brigade of infantry mowed them down like grass, exposing 
but their heads to our bullets, and those only while thus 
firing. Never did men fight better, or die, alas ! more 
fruitlessly, than did most of Hancock's division, especial- 
ly Meagher's Irish brigade, composed of the Sixty-third, 
Sixty-ninth, and Eighty-eighth of New York, Twenty- 
eighth Massachusetts, and One Hundred and Sixteenth 
Pennsylvania. . . . Thus Hancock's and French's divis- 
ions were successively sent against those impregnable 
heights, guarded with batteries rising tier above tier, all 
carefully trained upon the approaches from Fredericks- 
burg, while that fatal stone wall, so strong that even 
artillery could make no impression on it, completely shel- 
tered Barksdale's brigade, which, so soon as our columns 
came within rifle range, poured into their faces the dead- 
liest storm of musketry." (Greeley's "American Con- 
flict," pages 344, 345.) 



During the night of the 13th, or rather the morning 
of the 14th, at about two o'clock, General Burnside, com- 
manding the army, visited General Hancock at his head- 
quarters in Fredericksburg, to converse and advise with 
him on the events of the day, and just as he was leaving 
directed General Hancock to have his division in readi- 
ness to support an attack which he intended to make on 
the enemy's position on Marye's Heights at 9 A. M. that 
day; but the contemplated assault was not made, other 
counsels having prevailed. 

General Hancock's official report of this battle includes 
a statement of the losses of his division, and illustrates 
the terrible nature of the fighting. It gives 5,006 men 
taken into action, of whom 2,010 were killed or wounded, 
and of these 156 were commissioned officers. Of General 
Hancock's personal staff, three were wounded, and four had 
horses shot under them, while the General himself had a 
narrow escape, a musket-ball having passed through his 
clothes, abrading the skin. 

General Burnside's intention to renew the attack at 
Fredericksburg was so bitterly opposed by General Sum- 
ner and the other generals that he finally relinquished 
it. In his testimony before the Committee on the Conduct 
of the War, General Burnside states that he was induced 
by Sumner's protest to recall the order for this attack. 

On the two days succeeding the battle, Sunday, 14th, 
and Monday, 15th, the troops laid on their arms, and dur- 
ing the night of the latter, protected from discovery by 
the noise produced by a peculiarly harsh and discordant 
gale, the army was withdrawn to the north side of the 
Rappahannock. The loss of the Union army in the fight 
at Fredericksburg was 12,321 killed, wounded, and miss- 
ing, and the fact that one-sixth of this entire loss fell 


upon Hancock's division of 5,000 men shows what kind 
of work they did that day. The loss of the Confederates 
was 5,309 killed and wounded, the difference being ac- 
counted for by the fact that they fought from behind 
fences and breastworks. In the following month Gen- 
eral Burnside ordered a movement across the Rappahan- 
nock and along its banks six miles above Fredericksburg. 
The divisions of Franklin and Hooker were put in motion 
in two parallel columns. On the 19th of January, 1863, 
a terrible storm of rain, which came up in the night and 
lasted two days, converted the country through the lines 
of the advance into " a continent of mud," deep, adhe- 
sive, and unmanageable. Still the columns struggled on 
in what is known in the history of the army as the " Mud 
March," and with incredible toil in corduroying, and drag- 
ging pontoons, artillery, and supply wagons over utterly 
impassable roads, they had neared the ford ; but, seeing 
the hopelessness of the undertaking, and learning that 
Lee was ready to meet it, General Burnside recalled the 
army to its quarters. 

Shortly after this General Burnside was relieved from 
command, and his resignation accepted, General Joseph 
Hooker being appointed by the President in his place. 

The result of this change of commanders was to re- 
vive in the army the zeal and confidence which had cer- 
tainly been considerably weakened under recent disasters, 
and from a feeling of doubt, generally prevalent, concern- 
ing the capacity of General Burnside. 


The Reorganization of the Army The New Battfe-field Position of Lee's 
Army General Hooker's Plan The Battle of Chancellorville Part 
borne by General Hancock Heavy Engagement on May 2d and 3d 
General Hooker rendered Insensible by a Spent Shot Gallant Con- 
duct of Colonel N. A. Miles Withdrawal of the Union Army Han- 
cock placed in Command of the Second Army Corps Lee moves 
Northward, crosses the Potomac from Western Maryland into Penn- 
sylvania Movements of Hooker's Army General Hooker relieved 
by Major-General George G. Meade Concentration of the Opposing 
Armies at Gettysburg. 

AFTER his appointment to the command, General 
Hooker wisely determined not to attempt any large op- 
erations during the winter season of impassable roads. 
The " Mud March " had taught him and his generals that 
there were other things to be overcome besides the ene- 
my, and he spent three months in efforts to bring the 
army into a condition of efficiency. Certain improve- 
ments in its organization were effected, such as abolishing 
the " Grand Divisions," perfecting the several depart- 
ments, consolidating the cavalry under able leaders and 
improving its efficiency, and introducing corps badges, 
for the double purpose of distinguishing to what corps a 
soldier belonged and forming V esprit du corps. The 
ranks were filled up by recalling absentees, discipline and 
drilling were maintained, and before the spring cam- 
paign opened, Hooker found himself at the head of 120,- 
000 foot of all arms, and 12,000 well-appointed cavalry. 


The Confederate Army numbered scarcely half that 
force, as two divisions under Longstreet had been de- 
tached, and did not rejoin it until after the battle of 

Nearly due west from Fredericksburg, and eleven 
miles from that town and in the same county Spott- 
sylvania there stands a large brick house, with a num- 
ber of outbuildings, forming a little hamlet, called 
Chancellorville. It is on the western side of a wild 
and barren district, known as " The Wilderness." Lee's 
army had been lying during the winter along the Rappa- 
hannock, stretching for some miles east of Fredericks- 
burg up that river nearly or quite to the mouth of the 
Rapidan, and had been strengthening the defenses along 
the river with a view of preventing its being crossed by 
the Union forces. Hooker's army rested upon the plains 
of Stafford, on the other side of the Rappahannock. Gen- 
eral Hooker now formed the bold plan of marching up 
the river, crossing it and its tributary the Rapidan 
turning Lee's flank near Chancellorville, and sweeping 
him en reverse. On the 27th of April, 1863, his turning 
column was put in motion, consisting of the corps of 
Meade, Fifth ; Couch, Second ; Howard, Eleventh ; and 
Slocum, Twelfth. The movement resulted in the battle 
usually called Chancellorville, which was attended by 
great loss of men, and resulted disastrously. The opera- 
tions continued after our front crossing the river, from 
April 29th to May 6th. In this campaign General Han- 
cock bore a conspicuous part. His division and that of 
French, both of the Second Corps, crossed the Rappa- 
hannock at the United States Ford, a little more than a 
mile below the point of affluence of the Rapidan, on 
April 30th. 


On May 1, Hancock's division was thrown on the 
Fredericksburg turnpike to support Sykes's division, 
Fifth Corps, then moving to Fredericksburg along that 
road. Sykes was already engaged with the enemy; and 
Hancock, having formed his troops in a very advantage- 
ous position, was about to go into the attack, when both 
divisions were promptly ordered to retire from Chancel- 
lorville, much against the judgment of Generals Hancock 
and Couch, the latter of whom was the corps commander. 
Orders to fall back were repeated, however, but General 
Hancock was so loath to relinquish his ground that the 
advancing enemy had an opportunity of firing into the 
rear of his column as it made the backward march. Han- 
cock was closely and hotly engaged on the two following 
days, May 2d and 3d, and successfully resisted all efforts of 
the enemy to break through his line. He had fixed his 
headquarters in the road just in front of the Chancellor 
house, one of the most exposed points on the whole field 
of battle, being constantly swept by the enemy's artil- 
lery. His horse was shot under him. At this point, on 
May 2, it was while leaning against a pillar of the house, 
close to Hancock's headquarters, that General Hooker was 
knocked down by a spent shot and rendered for a time 
insensible. Colonel "N. A. Miles, Sixty-first New York 
Volunteers, who commanded the advanced line of Han- 
cock's division on the Fredericksburg road, particularly 
distinguished himself on both the 2d and 3d of May, in 
repelling several fierce assaults made upon him by the 
enemy, and was dangerously wounded just after he had 
repulsed one of the fierce attacks on his line. General 
Hancock sent an aide to him with the message, " Tell 
Miles he is worth his weight in gold." Such prompt 
acknowledgment and warm commendation of handsome 


services was one of Hancock's characteristics, which 
greatly endeared him to both officers and men. 

Hancock's division was the last to leave the field on 
the 3d, when our forces withdrew from the line which 
covered the roads concentrating at the Chancellorville 
house to the new position in the rear, which had been 
selected and prepared the previous evening. The division 
retired to this new line leisurely, dragging with it by 
hand the artillery of Lepine's Maine battery, which had 
been abandoned near the Chancellor house, after its 
officers, men, and horses had nearly all been killed or 

The battle of Chancellorville was well planned, but 
was not well fought by the Union general. Possessing, 
no doubt, courage and many other elements of a good 
commander, Hooker was nevertheless not a great general. 
Had he possessed those qualities which are necessary to 
forecast a campaign in all its details, the results might 
have been different, and had not General Hooker, at a 
very critical moment during the action, been stunned and 
rendered insensible, as has already been related. 

General Hancock, in his testimony before the Commit- 
tee on the Conduct of the War, thus describes the retire- 
ment of our army : " My position was on the other side 
of the Chancellor house, and I had a fair view of this 
battle, and, although my troops were facing and fighting 
that way, the first lines referred to finally melted away 
and the whole front passed out ; first the Third Corps went 
out, and there was nothing left on that part of the line 
but my own division ; that is, on that extreme point of 
the line on the site of the Chancellor house, toward the 
enemy. I was directed to hold that position until a 
change of line of battle could be made, and was to hold it 


until I was notified that all the other troops had gotten 
off. This necessitated my fighting for a time both ways. 
I had two lines of battle, one facing toward Fredericks- 
burg, and the other line behind that ; and I had to face 
about the troops in the rear line to the right for the en- 
emy who were coming on in that direction. I had a good 
deal of artillery, and, although the enemy masked their 
infantry in the woods very near me, and attempted to ad- 
vance, and always held a threatening attitude, I judge 
that they had exhausted their troops, as they attempted 
no attack, although I remained for some time alone in 
this position with artillery all the time, some of my men 
of the rear line occasionally being shot by the enemy's 
infantry, and when the time came I marched off to my 
new position, about three quarters of a mile from the old 
position the United States Ford, where the new line of 
battle had been laid out, and which we held until we 
crossed the river." 

This withdrawal gave the enemy the roads leading to 
Fredericksburg, which they used to advance on Sedgwick 
and attack him. 

The Chancellorville campaign was a failure. Our loss, 
including that of Sedgwick's corps, was 1 7,1 97 men killed, 
wounded, and missing ; the Confederate loss was never as- 
certained, but it was probably not much less than ours, and, 
considering that among their mortally wounded was Lieu- 
tenant-General T. J. Jackson (Stonewall), their loss was 
greater. That general had loomed into an importance in 
the estimation of the South, and by the Confederate 
army, that caused his loss to be deplored by them as the 
greatest that could have befallen them. 

This campaign terminated General Hancock's career 
as a division commander. The Second Corps returned 


from Chancel lor ville to its former camp at Falmouth and 
vicinity in front of Fredericksburg, where it remained 
until the commencement of the campaign, which culmi- 
nated at Gettysburg. In the mean time, early in June, 
1863, Couch relinquished the command of the Second 
Corps, and General Hancock was placed at its head June 
10, 1863. On June 25th, while upon the march to Get- 
tysburg, he was assigned to its permanent command by 
orders of the President of the United States. 

General Lee, having decided upon the bold measure 
of carrying the war into the North, put his columns into 
motion with that view, about a month after the affair at 
Chancellorville. He ascended the southern bank of the 
river at Culpepper, and, after some movements, designed 
to disguise his main purpose, threw his army northward, 
and, in due time, crossed the Potomac, and turned through 
Western Maryland into Pennsylvania. The earlier move- 
ments of Lee's army were intended to induce Hooker to 
withdraw from the line of the Rappahannock. This last- 
named general seemed to have been slow to believe that 
his adversary really intended an invasion into Pennsyl- 
vania. Lee had made great progress in his march, and 
one of the columns had entered the Yalley of the Shen- 
andoah, while both were pressing toward the Potomac, 
before Hooker moved from the Rappahannock. Hill's 
corps still occupied Fredericksburg, and the rest of Lee's 
army was stretched along the route between that point 
and the Potomac. There is no doubt that General 
Hooker discovered the intention of the Confederate 
army in this northward movement, and that he wished 
to take advantage of its long line by crossing the Rappa- 
hannock, cutting Lee's army in twain, destroying Hill's 
corps, which formed its rear, and then pursuing and de- 


stroying the other portions of it in detail. Indeed, 
General Hooker had suggested this plan to General Hal- 
leek and the President, but it had been rejected. He had 
now no alternative but to take his army back toward the 
capital, along the line so often traversed, via Warren- 
ton, Cattell Station, Fairfax Station, and Manassas. Here 
he remained for several days, awaiting the unfolding of 
the enemy's purpose. So soon as Hill beheld the Union 
army disappear behind Stafford, he left his position at 
Fredericksburg, marched to join the other part of the 
Confederate army, and the entire force was soon thrown 
upon Pennsylvania. Jenkins, with his cavalry, followed 
as far as Chambersburg, carrying consternation to the un- 
protected people of Franklin, Cumberland, and the ad- 
jacent counties, and, on his return, bringing large numbers 
of cattle and horses, which he had gathered in those 
regions, and which formed a seasonable supply for his 
own and Swell's forces, which met him at Hagers- 

Meanwhile, Hooker could not cross the Potomac un- 
til he should become aware of his adversary's purpose, 
but, when sure of this, he marched with alacrity to over- 
take the invaders. At this time, Heintzelman command- 
ed the Department of "Washington, consisting of 36,000 
men ; Schenck, the Middle District, including the region 
of Harper's Ferry ; while Dix was on the Peninsula with 
a considerable force. But, after Hooker crossed the Po- 
tomac, Halleck placed all these forces nominally under 
his control, though, inasmuch as the method, so constantly 
in vogue daring the war, of directing the movements of 
armies from Washington was still popular, and as these 
movements were hampered by conflicting views, as well 
as from the need for men who were stationed at points 


where they were utterly useless, General Hooker, on the 
27th of June, asked to be relieved from the command of 
the army, and on the 28th, a messenger arrived at his 
headquarters at Frederick, Maryland, with an order ap- 
pointing Major-General George G. Meade in his place. 
The latter entered upon his responsible duties in a quiet 
and soldier-like manner, and the change of commanders 
occasioned no interruption in the progress of the army. 
By a variety of manoeuvres, which need not here be de- 
tailed, it advanced in the direction of Gettysburg. 
Meanwhile some of Lee's forces had penetrated Pennsyl- 
vania as far as York, Carlisle, and the Susquehanna ; but, 
upon the advance of the Federal army, these were called 
in and concentrated for a great field struggle. Those 
which were at Chambersburg crossed the South Moun- 
tain toward Gettysburg, and those that were nearer the 
Susquehanna converged upon the same point. This Lee 
probably did under the apprehension that Meade would 
cut off his communications. In fact, but for Meade's 
manoeuvring, Lee would have crossed the Susquehanna 
and struck Harrisburg, and probably have made a dash 
upon Philadelphia. General Meade now saw that a great 
battle was inevitable, but could not foresee where it 
would occur. He caused careful examination of the 
topography of the country to be made, and, upon the 
whole, preferred in his own mind to receive battle on the 
line of Pipe-clay Creek, a stream running a few miles 
southeast of Gettysburg; but it was otherwise ordered. 
Buford's division of cavalry, being thrown out to the left 
of Meade's advancing army, proceeded in reconnoissance, 
occupied Gettysburg on June 30th, and pushed farther 
on north and west in the direction in which it was sup- 
posed Lee's army was advancing. The next day, Gen- 


eral Reynolds was directed upon the same point, and, 
as Hill and Longstreet were approaching it, the hos- 
tile forces came in collision on the 1st of July, and 
on that day .was fought the preliminary battle of Gettys- 


Movements of the Second Army Corps March by Acquia Creek and Dum- 
fries to Centreville General Meade's Headquarters at Taneytown 
Interview between Generals Meade and Hancock Death of General 
Reynolds Hancock ordered to the Front in Command of the First, 
Third, and Eleventh Corps Copy of General Meade's Order Directed 
to select the Battle Ground Appoints the Field of Gettysburg. 

IT is not the purpose of this work to enter upon an 
accurate and minute description of the important battle 
of Gettysburg ; it has been described ably and compre- 
hensively, and our province is only to trace the career of 
General Hancock in this terrible and magnificent strug- 
gle, in which it is no injustice to others to say he bore a 
very conspicuous, and, largely, a controlling part. Gen- 
eral Meade was the commander of the Union army, and 
deserves, and has received, high honor and commendation 
for the ability and efficiency with which he handled his 
forces. But it so happened that under his orders General 
Hancock selected the ground for the great conflict of the 
2d and 3d July, and established that arrangement for the 
battle which was substantially maintained until the vic- 
tory was won. 

Before entering upon a narration of Hancock's opera- 
tions during the battle of Gettysburg, it is proper to trace 
his movements from the time he assumed command of 
the Second Corps after the relief of General Couch. 


Major-General D. !N". Couch was relieved of the command 
of the Second Army Corps on the 9th June, 1863, in pur- 
suance of his personal request to the Secretary of War, 
and General Hancock succeeded to the command. There 
was, perhaps, no other officer of the army so strong in the 
confidence of the corps, or who could have succeeded 
Sumner and Couch with so much satisfaction to the 
troops. Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorville 
had raised his reputation as a division commander to the 
highest point, and his appointment to the command of 
the corps was one concerning which there could be no 
question. Indeed, it was contemplated, prior to General 
Couch's retirement, to place General Hancock in com- 
mand of the cavalry corps, and he was urged strongly by 
the most conspicuous and able officers of the cavalry arm 
General John Buford, Colonel Grimes Davis, and others 
to accept the command. General Hancock did not desire 
this command, but finally agreed to accept it for the com- 
ing battle if the commander deemed it necessary. Cir- 
cumstances, however, occurred, making an immediate 
change of commanders impracticable, and, before the mat- 
ter was revived, the vacancy in the command of the Sec- 
ond Corps occurred. General Caldwell succeeded Gen- 
eral Hancock in the command of the First Division, Second 
Corps, the other divisions being commanded by Generals 
Gibbon and French. 

On the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th of 
June, 1863, the corps commenced its march, forming the 
rear-guard of the Army of the Potomac, to confront Lee's 
invasion into Pennsylvania. It moved on the right flank 
of the army by way of Acquia Creek, Dumfries, Wolf 
Run Shoals, and Sangster's Station to Centreville. This 
march was devoid of particular incident, though the 


first and second days were excessively fatiguing on ac- 
count of the dust and heat. The corps remained at Cen- 
treville from the 13th to the 21st, when it moved across 
Bull Kun to Thoroughfare Gap, to watch the passes in 
the mountains. It was withdrawn from that position on 
the 24th, and simultaneously the Confederate General 
Stewart's cavalry passed up the turnpike from New Bal- 
timore to Gainesville, and at Haymarket fired a few 
shots from a battery into the flanks of the corps. The 
battery was rapidly driven off, and Stewart proceeded on 
the raid which had no other substantial result than to 
deprive Lee of his important services at Gettysburg at 
the most critical juncture. 

The night of the 24th the corps camped at Gum 
Spring. General Abercrombie's troops from Centre- 
ville joined the corps at this point, and, as General Aber- 
crombie was with it but one day, General Alexander 
Hays became the senior officer present with the Third 
Division, and fell to its command, General French hav- 
ing been relieved from the command of the Third Divi- 
sion on the 24:th, and assigned elsewhere. 

On the morning of the 25th the corps crossed the 
Potomac at Edward's Ferry. On the following day it 
moved to Sugar Loaf Mountain, and on the morning of 
the 27th to Monocacy Junction, near Frederick, Mary- 
land. General Meade assumed command of the army on 
this day, relieving General Hooker. On the 29th the 
army was again in motion, the Second Corps reaching a 
point one mile beyond Uniontown at 10 p. M., where it 
halted. Here it remained until the morning of July 
1st, when it marched to Taneytown, arriving there about 
11 A. M. General Hancock, having ridden to General 
Meade's headquarters and reported to him in person, was 


now made acquainted with the army commander's plan 
to deliver battle on Pipe-clay Creek. 

General Hancock had hardly returned to his com- 
mand after this interview, when he received a communi- 
cation from General Meade, announcing that General 
Reynolds, commanding the left wing of the army, had 
been killed or badly wounded in a conflict with the ene- 
my in front of Gettysburg, and directing General Han- 
cock to proceed to the front, and, in case of the truth 
of General Reynolds's death, assume command of the 
Eleventh, First, and Third Corps. 

The loss of General Reynolds, especially at this time, 
when General Meade relied upon his ability and soldierly 
qualities, in view of the coming operations, was felt as a 
most serious blow. 

The following is a copy of the order directing Gen- 
eral Hancock to proceed to the front and assume com- 
mand of the troops assembled there : 


"July 1, 1863, 10 P.M. 

" Commanding Officer, Second Corps : 

" The Major-General commanding has just been in- 
formed that General Reynolds has been killed or badly 
wounded. He directs that you turn over the command of 
your corps to General Gibbon ; that you proceed to the 
front, and, by virtue of this order, in case of the truth of 
General Reynolds's death, you assume command of the 
corps there assembled, viz., the Eleventh, First, and Third 
at Emmettsburg. If you think the ground and position 
there a better one on which to fight a battle, under exist- 
ing circumstances, you will so advise the General, and he 
will order all the troops up. You know the General's 


views, and General Warren, who is fully aware of them, 
has gone out to see General Reynolds." 

"Later, 1.15 P. M. 

"Reynolds has possession of Gettysburg, and the 
enemy are reported as falling back from the front of 
Gettysburg. Hold your column ready to move. 

" Yery respectfully, your obedient servant, 
(Signed) " D. BUTTEKFIELD, 

u Major-General, and Chief of Staff." 

It will be observed that by this order General Meade 
placed General Gibbon in command of the Second Corps 
over the heads of his two seniors, Hays and Caldwell ; 
that General Hancock was placed in command over his 
seniors Generals Howard and Sickles and that Gen- 
eral Hancock was to advise General Meade whether the 
ground and position, under existing circumstances, was a 
" better one " on which to fight a battle, that all the 
troops might be ordered up. The copy of this order 
filed by General Meade before the Committee on the 
Conduct of the War differs by some error from the order 
received by General Hancock ; and differs also in the same 
particular from the one filed with the same committee 
by General Butterfield, Chief of Staff of the Army of the 
Potomac, who signed the original order. In that the word 
"better" is placed in parenthesis, and the word "suit- 
able," which does not occur in the copy received by Gen- 
eral Hancock, is inserted immediately after it. 

General Hancock called General Meade's attention to 
the fact that Generals Howard and Sickles ranked him. 
General Meade replied in substance that he could not 
help that ; that General Hancock knew his views ; that 
this was an emergency in which he could not stand on 


such a point, and that he had authority to assign to com- 
mand those he deemed most suited for the occasion with- 
out regard to rank. This explains his action in reference 
to the assignment of General Gibbon over his seniors 

General Hancock started for Gettysburg immediately 
upon receiving General Meade's order, turning over the 
command of the Second Corps to General Gibbon, accom- 
panied by several of his staff-officers, and rode rapidly, 
closely scanning the ground on the route, as he had been 
instructed by General Meade to do with a view of noting 
the defensive positions which would be available, should 
that part of our force engaged at Gettysburg retire along 
that road. About half way between Taneytown and 
Gettysburg, an ambulance was met, accompanied by a 
single staff -officer, and bearing the body of General 

As General Hancock passed along the road, he ordered 
all trains which would interfere with the movements of 
troops either way to march as rapidly as possibly to their 
destinations, so as to clear the road of obstruction. 

About 3.30 P. M. he reached Cemetery Hill, where he 
met General Howard, and informed him that he had 
been ordered to assume command. General Howard ac- 
quiesced. No time was spent in conversation, the press- 
ing duty of the moment being to determine our line of 
action, and to restore order among our troops, who were 
then retiring hurriedly through the town of Gettysburg, 
pursued by the enemy. Buford's cavalry, in an impos- 
ing array, was holding the open ground to the left and 
front of Cemetery Hill. General Buford himself was on 
Cemetery Hill with General "Warren, where General 
Hancock met them for a moment. Generals Howard, 


Warren, and Buford all gave their assistance in forming 
our troops. In describing this particular moment, in the 
progress of events, Swinton says (" Army of Potomac," 
page 334) : " As the confused throng was pouring through 
Gettysburg, General Hancock arrived on the ground. 
He had not brought with him his tried Second Corps, 
but had ridden forward from Taneytown, under orders 
from General Meade, to assume command and use dis- 
cretionary power, either to retain the force at Gettysburg 
or retire it to the proposed line of Pipe-clay Creek ; but 
on his arrival he found a more pressing duty forced upon 
him ; for it was clear that, if the flight of the shattered 
masses of the First and Eleventh Corps was not stayed, 
a great disaster must follow. In such an emergency it is 
the personal qualities of a commander alone that tell. 
If, happily, there is in him that mysterious but potent 
magnetism that calms, subdues, and inspires, there results 
one of those sudden moral transformations that are among 
the marvels of the phenomena of battle. This quality 
Hancock possesses in a high degree, and his appearance 
soon restored order out of seemingly hopeless confusion 
a confusion which Howard, an efficient officer, but of 
rather a negative nature, had not been able to quell." 

Yery soon the enemy's line of battle was seen advanc- 
ing up the ravine between the town and Gulp's Hill, south- 
east of the town. Wadsworth's division (First Corps) and 
Hall's Fifth Maine Battery were sent at once to the west- 
ern slope of Gulp's Hill, which important position they 
held during the entire battle. The brave Wadsworth was 
by no means weakened or daunted by the day's work, but 
was still full of fight. With reference to EwelPs advance 
toward Gulp's Hill on the evening of July 1, Lee's report 
says : " General Ewell was therefore instructed to carry 


the hill occupied by the enemy, if he found it practicable, 
but to avoid a general engagement until the arrival of the 
other divisions, which were ordered to hasten forward. In 
the mean time the enemy occupied the point which Gen- 
eral Ewell designed to seize (Gulp's Hill)." It will be seen, 
therefore, that the movements just narrated were very 
important ones. The lines having been established to 
deter the enemy from further advance, General Hancock 
dispatched his senior aide-de-camp, Major "W. G. Mitchell, 
with a verbal message to General Meade, that " General 
Hancock could hold Cemetery Hill until nightfall, and 
that he considered Gettysburg the place to fight the com- 
ing battle." Major Mitchell left the battle-field (Ceme- 
tery Hill) about 4 p. M., and arrived at General Meade's 
headquarters between 6 and 7 P. M. Having delivered 
General Hancock's message to General Meade in the 
presence of General Williams, Adjutant-General of the 
Army of the Potomac, General Meade replied, " I will 
order up the troops." The following is the disposition of 
troops as made by General Hancock on the evening of 
July 1st : The First Corps, except Wadsworth's division, 
which was posted as before stated, was on the right and 
left of the Taneytown road ; the Eleventh Corps on the 
right of the Taneytown road on both sides of the Balti- 
more turnpike ; Geary's division of the Twelfth Corps, 
having come up in advance of its corps commander, Gen- 
eral Slocum, was ordered to occupy the high ground (Lit- 
tle Hound Top) to the right of and near " Round Top," 
commanding the Gettysburg and Emmettsburg road, as 
well as the road to our rear. 


Gettysburg Disposition of the Army General Sickles engaged The 
Third Corps repulsed and reenforced General Sickles disabled His 
Troops placed under the Command of Hancock Our Line strengthened 
by Doubleday's Division and a Portion of the First Corps The Enemy 
advancing all along the Line Heavy Fighting General Hancock 
reenforced by Part of Lockwood's Brigade Gallant Charge of the 
First Minnesota, and Capture of Rebel Colors Caldwell's Division 
Losses of the First Division, Second Army Corps The Brave Fifth 
New Hampshire Night of the 2d of July. 

THE Second Army Corps, which had been directed by 
General Meade to follow General Hancock to Gettysburg, 
had marched from Taneytown about 1.30 P. M. of the 1st, 
and bivouacked that night about three miles from Gettys- 
burg, in a position to secure our left flank from any 
turning movement (around Bound Top) by the enemy, or 
from any seizure of the road leading toward Taneytown 
from the direction of Emmettsburg. General Hancock 
directed a regiment of the Second Corps to be placed, on 
the evening of July 1st, at the bridge over Pipe-clay 
Creek, on the Taneytown road, so as to secure it from de- 
struction, and to keep open our communications with the 
battle-field and to the rear. 

By daylight on the morning of the 2d, General Han- 
cock joined the Second Corps (which moved on to the 
field of Gettysburg), and formed it on the left of the 
Eleventh Corps, prolonging the line from the left of 


Cemetery Hill toward Round Top until it connected with 
the Third Corps. The divisions were posted from right 
to left, in the order of Hays, Gibbon, and Caldwell. 
Each division had one of its brigades in the rear of its 
line in reserve. The light batteries of the corps were 
posted from right to left, as follows : Woodruff's, Ar- 
nold's, Cushing's, Brown's, and Rorty's. The morning 
was enlivened by some very sharp skirmishing, especially 
on Hays's front ; with this exception, and some irregular 
artillery firing, the day passed in comparative quiet until 
about 3 p. M., when the Third Corps (General Sickles) 
advanced from its position in the line of battle toward 
the " peach-orchard " and the Emmettsburg road. By this 
movement the Third Corps lost connection on its right 
and left flanks. It soon became heavily engaged with the 
enemy. Its right flank was separated from the left of 
the Second Corps, and in this interval General Gibbon, 
commanding Second Division, Second Corps, placed the 
Eighty-second New York and Fifteenth Massachusetts 
regiments of infantry, and Brown's Rhode Island Battery. 
The enemy's attack on Sickles forced him back, and, an 
immediate call for reinforcements being made, General 
Hancock was directed by the commander of the army 
to send a division of the Second Corps to the assistance 
of the Third, with orders to report to Major-General 
Sykes, commanding Fifth Corps, whose troops were then 
engaged on the left of the Third Corps. Caldwell's 
division of the Second Corps was sent on this service. 
"Willard's brigade, Third Division, Second Corps, was sent 
to the support of Birney's division, Third Corps, and two 
regiments (Devereux's Nineteenth Massachusetts, and Mel- 
Ion's Forty-second New York) to the assistance of Hum- 
phreys' division, Third Corps. At this juncture General 


Hancock was informed by General Meade that General 
Sickles was disabled, and was instructed to take command 
of the Third Corps in addition to his own, and General 
Gibbon again succeeded to the command of the Second 
Corps. General Hancock led in person the brigade in- 
tended for Birney's support toward the left of the origi- 
nal line of battle of the Third Corps, and was proceeding 
with it to the front when he met General Birney, who 
told him that his troops had all been forced to the rear, 
abandoning the ground to which General Hancock was 
marching with Willard's brigade. Humphreys' division, 
Third Corps, was still in position, but, the enemy pressing 
him hard in front, and driving him at all points, he was 
forced back to the original line of battle, being placed by 
General Hancock on the line vacated by Caldwell's divi- 
sion, when it moved to General Sickles' support earlier 
in the fight. 

In regaining this line General Humphreys suffered 
severe losses, but succeeded in preserving the organiza- 
tion of his command. The Nineteenth Massachusetts 
and Forty-second New York regiments, which, as before 
stated, had been sent to his support, had not arrived on 
his line when he commenced his retreat, but, observing 
that he was rapidly retiring, those regiments formed line 
of battle, delivered a few volleys, and then retired in 
good order, though suffering heavy losses. So closely 
were they pressed by the enemy that prisoners were cap- 
tured by the retreating regiments. Brown's Khode Isl- 
and Battery and the regiments of Ward (Fifth Massa- 
chusetts) and Huston (Eighty-second New York), before 
mentioned, were still less fortunate. Having done good 
service in protecting General Humphreys' right, their 
left was exposed to the enemy's attack, and they were 


forced back, losing both commanders and a large number 
of other officers and men. The battery was gallantly 
served, but continued its fire so long that it could not be 
entirely withdrawn, one gun falling into the enemy's 
hands. Captain Brown received a dangerous but not mor- 
tal wound. Willard's brigade was placed by General Han- 
cock on the line of battle at the point through which 
Birney's troops had retired, and, as the enemy were fol- 
lowing sharply, the brigade became almost immediately 
engaged, losing heavily. Colonel Willard was struck in 
the face by a piece of bursting shell and killed, in Gen- 
eral Hancock's presence, at the moment when the Gen- 
eral had given him his instructions. The reinforcement 
for which General Hancock had sent to General Meade 
now began to come up, and our line was strengthened by 
Doubleday's division and a portion of Robinson's division 
(First Corps). The enemy were then advancing along 
nearly the entire front of General Hancock's line. Gib- 
bon's troops promptly checked the enemy's attack from 
the direction of the brick house on the Emmettsburg road, 
and the lost gun of Brown's battery was recaptured. 

The Nineteenth Maine, Colonel Heath, bore a con- 
spicuous part in this operation. When it was seen that 
the enemy were following the broken troops of the Third 
Corps in great force, General Hancock dispatched Major 
Mitchell, his senior aid, to General Meade for reenforce- 
ments. Major Mitchell met General Meade just as the 
latter was riding down the Taneytown road near his head- 
quarters (a small white house), and delivered General 
Hancock's request to him. General Lockwood, with part 
of his brigade (two regiments), was then marching down 
that road, and the head of his column had just passed the 
house mentioned. General Meade said that those troops 


should go to General Hancock, and sent one of his staff 
with Major Mitchell to so inform General Loekwood. 
When that officer received the orders from General 
Meade, he asked Major Mitchell to point out the posi- 
tion he was required to move to, when Major Mitchell 
told him to have the fence thrown down, just where the 
head of his column had halted, and to move at once up 
to the crest of the hill. This was promptly done ; the 
troops moved through the passage in the fence, formed 
line, and, guided by Major Mitchell, who remained with 
General Lockwood, moved up to the crest, and at once 
came into action on the left of the troops of the Second 
Corps. This part of our line was not continuous, owing 
to Caldwell's division having been taken out of it, and 
the breaking of Sickles' corps leaving a space which of- 
fered to the enemy a good opportunity to penetrate our 
lines. While General Hancock was riding along the 
line, approaching the position of the Second Corps, he 
observed a Rebel regiment about penetrating one of the 
intervals, firing as it advanced, Captain Miller, one of 
the General's aides, who was riding at his side, being 
wounded severely by its fire. Turning to one of our 
regiments which was approaching in column of fours 
to protect that point, General Hancock said to the com- 
mander, pointing to the Rebel flag : " Do you see those 
colors?" "Yes, sir." "Well, capture them." The 
commander smiled and said, " I will, General." The regi- 
ment charged as it was formed, in column of fours, in the 
most gallant manner, dispersing the Rebel regiment and 
capturing its colors and a number of prisoners. While 
General Hancock was absent, wounded, after Gettys- 
burg, he caused inquiry to be made with a view of ascer- 
taining the regiment which had made this brilliant attack, 


as he desired to recommend its commander for promo- 
tion. Knowing that several corps were represented at 
or near that portion of our line, he caused a circular 
letter to be sent to the different corps commanders to 
obtain the required information. In this letter he de- 
scribed the commander of the regiment and his horse. 
Strange to say, several claimants were found for the 
honor, but the regiment was in truth one of the General's 
own corps, the heroic First Minnesota. 

In this attack, and the subsequent advance upon the 
enemy, that regiment lost seventy-five per cent, of its 
numbers. One of Stannard's Yermont regiments after- 
ward advanced upon the right of the First Minnesota, 
and was instrumental in bringing off the abandoned guns 
of one of our batteries, from which the cannoneers had 
been driven, and which was then under the enemy's fire. 

"With the assistance of the reinforcements sent to 
him, General Hancock was speedily enabled to repulse 
the enemy, and to reestablish the line as it had been be- 
fore the Third Corps moved out toward the Emmettsburg 
road. Colonel Sherrill succeeded to Colonel Willard in 
command of the brigade of the Third Division, and with 
it made a gallant advance on the enemy's batteries to the 
right of the brick house. The One Hundred and Eleventh 
New York, Colonel McDougall commanding, bore a con- 
spicuous part in this" advance. The brigade lost fifty per 
cent, of its numbers, and showed by its gallant conduct on 
that field that its capture at Harper's Ferry the year 
before was not due to lack of mettle. Colonel Sherrill 
was killed the next day (the 3d), and Colonel McDougall 
being wounded, left the brigade in command of a lieu- 

It is now time to follow the fortunes of Caldwell's 


division (First), Second Corps. As it neared the line 
General Sykes had been ordered to assume on the left of 
the Third Corps, it was met by a staff officer of General 
Sykes, and moved forward, part of the time at the double 
quick, into the interval between the Third and Fifth 
Corps, with orders to check and drive back the enemy. 
The First Brigade, commanded by Colonel Edward E. 
Cross, Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers, was in the ad- 
vance, and drove the enemy in splendid style across the 
wheat-field in its front. The Second and Third Brigades, 
commanded by Colonel Patrick Kelly, Eighty-eighth ISTew 
York Volunteers, and Brigadier-General Zook, were also 
put in to extend the line toward the Third Corps, and 
likewise drove the enemy before them. The Fourth 
Brigade, Colonel John P. Brooke commanding, was after- 
ward directed to advance to relieve the First Brigade, 
which was hard pressed. "With his accustomed gallan- 
try and energy, Brooke pushed his line farther to the 
front than any other of our troops advanced during the 
battle, and gained a position impregnable from an attack 
in his front and of great tactical importance. Brooke 
himself was slightly wounded. Having thus established 
the line of his division, and having been reenforced by 
Sweitzer's brigade of the Fifth Corps, General Caldwell 
passed to the right with a view of making a connection 
between his division and the left of the Third Corps, 
but found all the troops there broken and retreating un- 
der the pressure of the enemy, and before Caldwell could 
change front the enemy gained the ground on his right 
and rear, and compelled his division to retire to a position 
near the Taneytown road, where it remained until re- 
lieved by a part of the Twelfth Corps. 

On returning to the Second Corps, on the evening of 


July 2d, Caldwell took up position on the left of the other 
division of the corps, covering the ground vacated by the 
Third Corps, but not closely connecting with the Second 
Corps. The interval between his right and the left of 
Gibbon's division was filled by troops of the First Corps, 
which had been sent up during the day's battle to reen- 
force our line. It thus happened that Cald well's division 
was separated, and took no very active part in repulsing 
the enemy's final assault on the 3d. Had the division 
resumed its proper place in the line when it returned 
from General Sykes on the 2d, the grand attack of the 
3d would have been met entirely by the Second Corps, 
and its measure of glory would have been greater, if 

The losses of the First Division in its operations on the 
2d were over twelve hundred ; its whole strength engaged 
being but a little over three thousand men. Two of its 
brigade commanders, Brigadier-General Zook and Colonel 
Cross, were killed, and a third, Colonel Brooke, was 
wounded. Colonel Richard P. Roberts, One Hundred 
and Fortieth Pennsylvania Volunteers, was also among 
the killed in that division. 

Colonel Cross was an eccentric character, but an in- 
valuable soldier. He was a rigid disciplinarian, and used 
to say his regiment, the Fifth New Hampshire, dared not 
go back without orders. It would seem as if some one 
had neglected to give them their orders at Gettysburg, 
for that heroic regiment, numbering about one hundred 
and fifty muskets, had over one hundred casualties, and 
the killed exceeded in numbers the wounded. 

If Colonel Cross ever knew fear, it was not known to 
others. He had been wounded severely several times, and 
was conspicuous on every field for his defiant bravery. 


At Chancellorville, on the morning of May 3d, when 
our lines were about to be withdrawn, Colonel Cross 
made up his mind that the affair was " played out," as he 
expressed it, and, seating himself on the ground in front 
of his regiment, in the most composed manner, with the 
lid of a cracker-box for a desk, indited his report of the 
battle under a heavy fire of artillery. He had led an 
adventurous life before the war, one of its incidents hav- 
ing been a duel with Sylvester Mowry in Arizona. 

Here occurred a curious instance of prevision of im- 
pending death. On the morning of the 2d, General 
Hancock said to Colonel Cross : " Colonel, I feel satisfied 
that to-day will bring you your promotion." The reply 
was : " General, this is my last day." 

It was nearly dark on the 2d when the action had 
entirely ceased on the front of the Second Corps ; and it 
was soon followed by very heavy firing on General How- 
ard's line on Cemetery Hill. This firing seeming to come 
nearer and nearer, General Hancock directed General Gib- 
bon to send Carroll's brigade of Hays's division to report 
to General Howard at once to reenforce him ; and, hear- 
ing sharp firing at the same time still further to the right, 
on Slocum's line, and fearing that the troops which the 
latter had sent to his assistance had left him insufficient 
force, General Hancock ordered that two regiments should 
be sent to Slocum (Twelfth Corps). By some mistake 
these regiments also went to General Howard, instead of 
to their intended destination. 

When Carroll's brigade arrived on Howard's front, 
the enemy had nearly carried the position. The artillery- 
men in Stewart's and Eickett's batteries (" B," Fourth 
United States Artillery, and " F," First Pennsylvania) 
were defending themselves with sponge-staffs and ram- 


mers, or whatever they could lay hands on, the bugler of 
Rickett's battery having had his brains knocked out by a 
trail-handspike in the hands of one of the enemy. 

Carroll formed his line as best he could in the dark- 
ness, and with stentorian tones ordered the charge and 
swept the hill. It was thought afterward that the ser- 
vices rendered by Carroll's brigade were not so generous- 
ly acknowledged, in General Howard's official report, as 
they should have been, and several letters were subse- 
quently published on the subject, the point in controversy 
being, not how well Carroll's troops did, for as to this 
there was no question, but as to the pinch to which 
Howard was reduced when Carroll arrived to sustain him. 
General Howard himself admitted that affairs were criti- 
'cal, and the reinforcements unexpected although it was 
afterward claimed that the brigade was sent in pursuance 
of a request from General Howard. But, in fact, the bri- 
gade was sent by General Hancock, solely upon his own 
motion and responsibility, when he heard the heavy firing 
at that point. General Howard may have sent a request 
to General Hancock for help, but, if so, it was not re- 
ceived, and was not the cause of his action in the prem- 
ises. The brigade was retained during the remainder of 
the battle, as well as one of two regiments which, as has 
been stated, joined him by mistake. 







Gettysburg Council of War The Last Day; July 3d Heavy Artillery 
Firing General Hancock and Staff ride along the Line of Battle, under 
a Heavy Fire Advance of the Enemy's Line Gallant Bearing of Gen- 
eral Hancock Fierce Attack by the Rebel Infantry, 18,000 strong 
The Battle wavers Desperate Fighting in All Directions The Enemy 
repulsed General Hancock shot from his Horse Message to General 
Meade, " We have gained a Great Victory " The Commander-in-Chief 
thanks General Hancock " in the Name of the Country and for Myself 
for the Service he has done this Day " General Hancock carried from 
the Field He is removed to his Father's House at Norristown, Penn- 

ON" the evening of the 2d, after dark, while the firing 
still continued on Howard's and Slocum's front, a council 
of war was held at General Meade's headquarters, which 
General Hancock attended as commander of the left cen- 
ter of the army, General Gibbon being present as the im- 
mediate commander of the Second Corps, and General 
Birney as commander of the Third Corps. 

The question was submitted to the council whether 
there should be any change in the position of the army. 
On this question the vote appears to have been unanimous 
to remain, though one or two generals present expressed 
the opinion that Gettysburg was not the place to fight the 
battle or not an advantageous one. 

The forenoon of the 3d passed in comparative quiet, 
as far as General Hancock's infantry was concerned, 


though the artillery was frequently and warmly engaged. 
The heavy and continuous firing in front of the Twelfth 
Corps indicated that the main efforts of the enemy were 
on that point. 

From 11 A. M. until about 1 p. M. the silence was omi- 
nous, this being the interval of time when the enemy 
was placing his artillery and forming his lines for the 
grand attack on the third day. About the latter hour 
the cannonade opened upon our lines from one hundred 
and twenty guns, as if at a preconcerted signal. General 
Hancock was with General Meade and other general offi- 
cers at that time, just in rear of the line of battle of the 
Second Corps, and was engaged in dictating an order to 
one of his staff, when the first shell fell into his group, 
killing one man and wounding several others. The shells 
now fell thicker and faster every moment, indicating 
plainly important impending events, and sending each 
one speeding to his post. General Hancock rode at once 
to the right of his line of battle, and from thence passed 
along it for a mile or more, with his staff and orderlies, 
under a furious fire, to its extreme left, in order to inspire 
confidence among his troops. 

The batteries on our line responded promptly to the 
enemy's fire, but were greatly inferior in numbers, we 
having but about eighty guns in position at that time. 
Our artillery fire (in obedience to instructions from army 
headquarters) was not maintained as fully as it could have 
been, owing to the fact that our reserve ammunition was 
not abundant. General Hancock insisted that the enemy 
should be stoutly answered by the batteries on his line, 
and especially by those placed at our weakest points, which 
it was desirable should not be attacked, feeling confident 
that an infantry assault was impending against his lines, 


and because of the moral effect a cessation of our artillery 
fire would have upon our men. Nearly all of our ammu- 
nition, canister excepted, was expended. During this 
fire quite a number of caissons on our line were blown 
up four in Thomas's battery alone, and the troops, espe- 
cially the artillery, suffered severely during the cannon- 
ade, it being generally posted on the high ground in rear 
of the infantry. Its losses, in horses and material, were 
particularly great. 

After the artillery firing had continued for an hour 
and three quarters, it slackened, and a strong line of the 
enemy's skirmishers immediately advanced from the 
fringe of woods beyond the Emmettsburg road, followed 
by an attacking column composed of about 18,000 infan- 
try, led by Pickett's division in double line of battle, the 
brigades of Kemper and Garnett in front, and Armistead's 
brigade supporting. On his right was "Wilcox's brigade, 
formed in column of battalions, and on his left Heth's 
division. As soon as the enemy's skirmishers made their 
appearance, General Hancock again rode along his lines 
to the right to encourage the troops, and to notify the com- 
manders that the enemy was about to make his assault. 
It was quite remarkable that the General's favorite horse, 
one he had ridden in many battles, and always found re- 
liable, became so terrified, just as the enemy's column 
was approaching our line, that it became utterly power- 
less, and could not be forced to move when the General 
wished to ride to the threatened point. He was therefore 
obliged to borrow a horse from one of his staff, Captain 
Brownson (son of Eev. Orestes Brownson), Commissary of 
Musters, Second Corps, dismounting that officer, and say- 
ing to him: "You can afford to have a horse of this 
kind, Captain, on such an occasion as this, but I can not." 


Captain Brownson was a reliable and gallant young of- 
ficer, and was killed the following year at the battle of 
Beam's Station. 

On arriving at the right of his line, he discovered 
that the troops across the Taneytown road, on Ceme- 
tery Hill, had been withdrawn during his absence, and 
fearing an attack at that point, from the manner in which 
the enemy's bullets were striking the fence in front as 
he passed by, he rode down to General Meade's head-- 
quarters, a few hundred yards, to ask that troops might 
be sent there at once from another command to fill the 
gap. Finding, however, that General Meade had left his 
headquarters, he rode to the point of assault, the troops 
cheering him as he passed by them along the lines. The 
assaulting column was then advancing rapidly. Our men 
evinced a striking disposition to withhold their fire for 
close quarters, and the enemy's advance had been for a 
time opposed only by an irregular artillery fire. Alex. 
Hays had several regiments posted well to the front be- 
hind stone walls, and on his extreme right was Wood- 
ruff's battery of light twelves. Whether the fire was 
closer here, or whether, as some claim, the troops in Pet- 
tigrew's command were not as well seasoned to war as 
Pickett's men, it is certain that the attack on Hays was 
very speedily repulsed. That it was pressed with res- 
olution was attested by the dead and wounded on the 
field, which were as numerous on Hays's front as on any 
other part of it. The execution by the canister of 
Woodruff's battery at this point was very great. The 
enemy closed in toward their center to escape it, seeing 
which young Woodruff ordered a section to advance to 
secure an enfilade fire. While pointing to the proposed 
position, he was shot in the side and fell from his horse. 


The mortal wound, however, did not prevent him from 
urging the execution of his order. On the left of the 
line, fire was first opened upon the enemy from two 
regiments of Stannard's Yermont brigade, First Army 
Corps, which were placed in a small grove some dis- 
tance in front of and obliquely to the main line. Either 
to escape this fire, or for some other reason, the enemy's 
right closed in to their left, so that the center was urged 
forward against Gibbon's division by the pressure of both 
wings. Two regiments of Webb's brigade of that divis- 
ion, the Sixty-ninth and Seventy-first Pennsylvania Vol- 
unteers, were posted behind a low stone wall and breast- 
work of rail, hastily constructed on the slope toward the 
enemy. The rest of this brigade was behind the crest, 
some sixty paces in the rear, so posted as to enable them 
to fire over the heads of the two regiments in front. 
When the enemy's line had nearly reached the stone 
wall, the greater portion of the advanced regiments 
retired to the main line, but were rallied on the line in 
the rear by General Webb and his officers. It was 
thought at the time that this movement was due to the 
fact that these regiments were isolated from their bri- 
gade, and were posted on a down-hill slope. Whatever 
the reason, their partial retreat emboldened the enemy 
to push their advantage, numbers of them crossing our 
breastworks, led by General Armistead, who had the 
advance of the enemy's column. At this moment Cush- 
ing's guns, which were in advance of Webb's general 
line, seemed likely to fall into the hands of the enemy, 
and Lieutenant Gushing, their gallant commander, was 
instantly killed. 

About this time General Gibbon was severely wounded. 
General Hancock passing along at this moment, Colonel 


Devereux (Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteers) begged 
to be permitted to move his regiment to the point of 
danger ; General Hancock granted his request, and his 
regiment and Colonel Mellon's Forty-second New York 
were at once moved accordingly. Hall's brigade of Gib- 
bon's division was also moved by the right flank (the 
enemy having been repulsed in his front), and was imme- 
diately followed by Harrow's brigade of the same division. 
These movements led to some confusion, owing princi- 
pally to the fact that some of their men left their ranks 
while they were marching by the flank to fire at the 
enemy, and regimental organizations were, in a measure, 
lost. But individually all were firm. 

"Webb, Hall, Mellon, Devereux, and other gallant of- 
ficers carried the men forward, and a color-sergeant of the 
Seventy-second Pennsylvania Volunteers advancing with 
his colors, the men pressed firmly on, and after a few 
moments of desperate fighting, almost breast to breast, the 
enemy's line was broken. They sought safety in flight, 
and threw themselves on the ground, as a means of sur- 
render, to escape our fire. General Hunt, Chief of Ar- 
tillery, Army of the Potomac, was also at the front of the 
assault at this time, and behaved with great personal 
gallantry ; and Major Mitchell (General Hancock's Adju- 
tant-General) and Lieutenant Haskell, both on horse- 
back, were in the front rank of the troops engaged in 
this final struggle. General Hancock himself, seeing 
some troops unfavorably placed somewhat to the left and 
front, rode across to them ; but, before reaching them, 
he met a small detachment which he supposed to be a 
decimated battalion of the Second Corps, which was 
firing into the enemy's flank. As it contained but fifteen 
or twenty files, he thought it too small to effect much, 


and ordered it to fall back to the line of the troops before 
mentioned (Stannard's Yermont brigade), telling the com- 
mander he would advance them altogether. From thence 
General Hancock passed along the front of Stannard's 
line (which was lying down in ranks), and behind it to 
the right, when he met General Stanuard, and directed 
him to send two of his regiments to attack the enemy's 

Turning again toward the point of assault, to which 
the enemy still adhered, General Hancock was shot from 
his horse. At the moment the General was hit, all of his 
staff officers were absent from him on other parts of the 
field, and he was accompanied only by his tried and faith- 
ful color-bearer, Private James Wells, Sixth New York 
Cavalry. The General was caught as he was falling from 
his horse by Lieutenants Hooker and Benedict, of General 
Stannard's staff. Major Mitchell, meanwhile, had ridden 
to Stannard's brigade and given an order in the Gener- 
al's name (but not knowing that the General had already 
given the order, or that he was present and wounded) to 
attack the enemy in flank. 

In about fifteen minutes the Medical Director of the 
Second Corps, Surgeon M. A. Dougherty, arrived at the 
point where the General lay wounded, and immediately 
extracted from the wound several splinters of wood, 
some small pieces of lead, and a wrought-iron nail, which 
the ball had carried with it, as it passed through the Gen- 
eral's saddle before it struck him. The nail wrapped itself 
around the ball, and the latter was flattened by striking 
the saddle and the bone of the General's thigh. Mean- 
while, an ambulance had been sent for, and, after some 
time, the General was placed in it and removed to the 
field hospital of the Second Corps. A few moments after 


the General was shot, Major Mitchell joined him, and, 
as soon as he (General Hancock) saw that the enemy's as- 
sault was really broken he could see the field by turning 
partly on his side, and raising himself on his elbow he 
directed Major Mitchell to ride to General Meade with the 
following message : " Tell General Meade that the troops 
under my command have repulsed the enemy's assault, 
and that we have gained a great victory. The enemy is 
now flying in all directions in my front." Major Mit- 
chell also informed General Meade that General Han- 
cock had been dangerously wounded. General Meade 
returned the following reply to this message : " Say to 
General Hancock that I regret exceedingly that he is 
wounded, and that I thank him in the name of the coun- 
try and for myself for the service he has rendered to- 

As General Hancock was leaving the line of battle, he 
caused his ambulance to be stopped, while he dictated 
to Surgeon Dougherty, Medical Director, a note to Gen- 
eral Meade, the substance of which was as follows : " We 
have won a victory, and nothing is wanted to make it 
decisive but that you should carry out your intention.* 
I have been severely, but I trust not seriously, wounded. 
I did not leave the field so long as there was a rebel to be 
seen upright." 

No copy of this note was retained by General Han- 

*This had reference to a previous conversation between Generals 
Meade and Hancock, in which General Meade had expressed his intention 
of putting in the Fifth and Sixth Corps, if Hancock was attacked. (See 
"Keport of Committee on the Conduct of the War," vol. i, 1865, page 48, 
and General George Sykes's [Commander of Fifth Corps at Gettysburg] 
letter to editor of "Washington Chronicle," dated Fort Leavenworth, 
Kansas, December 9, 1856.) 


cock. It is presumed the original remained in General 
Meade's possession. 

This ended General Hancock's connection with the 
memorable battle of Gettsyburg. From the field hospi- 
tal he was conveyed to the railway at Westminster, when 
he was placed in a car and earned to Baltimore, and from 
thence to Philadelphia, and finally to his father's house 
at Norristown, Pennsylvania. 

It was at first supposed that his wound was caused 
by an explosive bullet ; but after the battle it was dis- 
covered that the ball had passed through the pommel of 
the saddle the General had ridden, carrying with it the 
nail and piece of wood. The wound not healing kindly, 
was thoroughly probed six weeks afterward, when the 
ball was found to be imbedded in the General's thigh, 
near the bone, which it had injured badly. It was ex- 
tracted after a painful operation by Surgeon L. M. Reed, 
Medical Director, Fifth Army Corps, Dr. "William Cor- 
son of Norristown, Pennsylvania, General Hancock's 
family physician, and Surgeon George E. Cooper, United 
States Army. This wound has since given the General 
great pain and annoyance, but is now fully healed. 

The casualties in the Second Army Corps during the 
great battle were 4,413, nearly 44 per cent, of all engaged. 
The " missing " numbered only 350 enlisted men, most 
of whom were captured from Caldwell's division, July 
2d. Hays's division lost 1,382 men, Gibbon's 1,627, and 
Caldwell's 1,248. 

The artillery brigade, consisting only of five batteries, 
lost 150 men and 250 horses. Three of the battery com- 
manders were killed and one wounded. Of the killed, 
Woodruff and Cushing have been mentioned ; the third 
was Rorty, commanding battery " B," First New York 


Artillery, who was shot through the head while gallantly 
performing his duty. Besides those already mentioned 
were Colonel Denis O'Kane, Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania 
Volunteers ; Colonel Max A. Thomans, Fifty-ninth New 
York Volunteers ; Lieutenant-Colonel Steele, Seventh 
Michigan Volunteers ; Lieutenant-Colonel Tschudy, Sixty- 
ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers; and Colonel Sherrill, 
One Hundred and Twenty-sixth New York Volunteers. 

The prisoners captured numbered 4,500, exclusive of 
those secured by Caldwell's division on the 2d, of whom 
about one half fell to each of the two divisions engaged. 
Gibbon's division secured and turned in 12 stands of colors, 
and Hays's division 15 stands. The whole number of 
colors captured by the corps was 33 ; but several of them 
were secreted and disposed of as personal trophies. 


Gettysburg Summing Up General Lee's Intention to renew the Battle 
Retreat of the Confederate Army Killed and Wounded Incidents 
of the Battle by an Eye-witness Splendid Action of Hancock and 
his Staff Longstreet's Advance Magnificent Courage of the South- 
erners The Philadelphia Brigade Death of the Confederate General 
Armistead General Hancock the Savior of Gettysburg. 

THE battle of Gettysburg was one of the most mag- 
nificent of modern times. For three days the largest 
armies handled in modern warfare maintained a fierce 
and persistent struggle. More, than 200 pieces of artil- 
lery, at intervals of this dreadful drama, belched forth 
missiles of destruction, and made the grand old hills 
tremble as with the thunders of heaven and the throes of 
volcanic fires. Never before had the horrible and the 
grand in human combat been blended in such sublime 
display. No painting, by either word or pencil, can ade- 
quately convey a conception of the stupendous features 
of this more than Titanic struggle. Each day every part 
of that extended battle-field presented terrible displays 
of the dread magnificence of war. But perhaps none 
was more sublimely impressive than the advance, on the 
third day, of Pickett's line of 18,000 men, in a tremen- 
dous charge upon that part of the Union line (the left 
center) held by the troops under Hancock's command. 
"With the steady and solemn grandeur of the ocean's 


wave, they came sweeping on, undeterred by the storm 
of shell and grape and musketry which opened carnage 
gaps in their serried lines ; and, although the North Caro- 
linians, when they discovered that the force against 
which they were moving was not, as they had supposed, of 
unseasoned militia, like themselves, raised the cry " The 
Army of the Potomac ! " and broke and ran, Pickett's 
brave Virginians pressed dauntlessly forward, rushed up 
the side of Cemetery Ridge, and fairly plunged into Han- 
cock's line: "And Hancock, who had the day before 
turned the fortunes of battle in a similar emergency, again 
displayed those qualities of cool appreciation and quick 
action that had proved him one of the foremost com- 
manders on the actual field of battle, and instantly drew 
together troops to make a bulwark against any further 
advance of the now exultant enemy." * This magnifi- 
cent charge was repulsed with awful slaughter. 

General Lee had thoughts of renewing the battle the 
next day, but found it impracticable; and he was re- 
duced to the sad alternative of retreat, which involved 
the abandonment of the whole scheme of invasion, and 
all the bright hopes connected with it. He was con- 
vinced that the position of the Union army was impreg- 
nable. Still he did not hasten his retreat, but remained 
the whole of the next day (July 4th) in his position, 
somewhat retired, and sent off his impedimenta south 
and west. General Hancock believed that, if our troops 
had advanced on the evening of July 3d, with the Fifth 
and Sixth Corps, Lee's artillery would have been cap- 
tured and his army destroyed. 

Both armies sustained severe losses in this great con- 
flict. On our side 2,834 were killed, 13,Y33 wounded, 

* Swinton's "Army of the Potomac," p. 360. 


and 6,643 missing in all 23,210. No accurate account 
of the Confederate loss was ever obtained, but it was 
estimated at 36,000, of which number nearly 14,000 
were prisoners. 

In completing this account of the battle of Gettys- 
burg, the following brief quotations will be found graphic 
and interesting. They are from the pen of Major-Gen- 
eral St. Clair A. Mulholland, and were contributed to 
the Philadelphia " Times " of February 14, 1880. Describ- 
ing a portion of the battle, the writer goes on as follows : 

"Instantly the air was filled with bursting shells. 
The batteries that we had been watching for the last two 
hours going into position in our front did not open 
singly or spasmodically. The whole one hundred and 
twenty guns, which now began to play upon us, seemed 
to be discharged simultaneously, as though by electricity, 
and then for nearly two hours the storm of death went 
on. I have read many accounts of this artillery duel, but 
the most graphic description by the most able writer 
falls far short of the reality. No tongue or pen can find 
language strong enough to convey any idea of its awful- 
ness. Streams of screaming projectiles poured through 
the hot air, falling and bursting everywhere. Men and 
horses were torn limb from limb ; caissons exploded one 
after another in rapid succession, blowing the gunners to 
pieces. No spot within our lines was free from this 
frightful iron rain. The infantry hugged close the earth, 
and sought every slight shelter that our light earthworks 
afforded. It was literally a storm of shot and shell that 
the oldest soldiers there those who had taken part in 
almost every battle of the war had not yet witnessed. 
That awful rushing sound of the flying missiles, which 
causes the firmest heart to quail, was everywhere. 


" At tins tumultuous moment we witnessed a deed of 
heroism, such as we are apt to attribute only to the 
knights of the olden time. Hancock, mounted, and ac- 
companied by his staff, Major Mitchell, Captain Harry 
Bingham, Captain Isaac Parker, and Captain E. P. Bron- 
son, with the corps flag flying in the hands of a brave 
Irishman (Private James Wells, of the Sixth New York 
Cavalry), started at the right of his line, where it joined 
the Taneytown road, and slowly rode along the terrible 
crest to the extreme left of his position, while shot and 
shell roared and crashed around him, and every moment 
tore great gaps in the ranks at his side. 

" { Stormed at with shot and shell 
Boldly they rode and well.' 

" It was a gallant deed, and, withal, not a reckless ex- 
posure of life ; for the presence and calm demeanor of the 
commander, as he passed along the lines of his men, set 
them an example, which an hour later bore good fruit, 
and nerved their stout hearts to win the greatest and 
most decisive battle ever fousrht on this continent. . . . 


"At this moment silence reigned along our whole 
line. With arms at a ' right shoulder shift ! ? the division 
of Longstreet's corps moved forward with a precision 
that was wonderfully beautiful. It was now our turn, 
and the lines, that a few moments before seemed so still, 
now teemed with animation. Eighty of our guns opened 
their brazen mouths ; solid shot and shell were sent on 
their errand of destruction in quick succession. We saw 
them fall in countless numbers among the advancing 
troops. The accuracy of our fire could not be excelled : 
the missiles struck right in the ranks, tearing and rend- 
ing them in every direction. The ground over which 


they have passed is strewn with dead and wounded, but 
on they come. The gaps in the ranks are closed as soon 
as made. They have three quarters of a mile to pass 
exposed to our tire, and half the distance is nearly passed. 
Our gunners now load with canister, and the effect is 
appalling; but still they march on. Their gallantry is 
past all praise; it is sublime. ISTow they are within a 
hundred yards. Our infantry rise up, and pour round 
after round into these heroic troops. At Waterloo, the 
Old Guard recoiled before a less severe fire ; but there 
was no recoil in these men of the South. They marched 
right on, as though they courted death. . . . 

" At the most critical moment Hancock fell among 
his men, on the line of Stannard's Vermont brigade, des- 
perately wounded ; but he continued to direct the fight 
until victory was assured, and then he sent Major Mit- 
chell to announce the glad tidings to the commander of 
the army. . . . 

"Many noble officers and men were lost on both 
sides, and in the camp hospital they died in hundreds 
during the afternoon and night. The Rebel General 
Armistead died in this way. As he was being carried to 
the rear, he was met by Captain Harry Bingham, of Han- 
cock's staff, who, getting off his horse, asked him if he 
could do anything for him. Armistead replied to take 
his watch and spurs to General Hancock, that they might 
be sent to his relatives. His wishes were complied with, 
General Hancock sending them to his friends at the first 
opportunity. Armistead was a brave soldier, with a chiv- 
alric presence, and came forward in front of his brigade, 
waving his sword. He was shot through the body, and 
fell inside of our lines. . . . 

" On the morning of the 5th we found the enemy had 


gone, and then what a scene ! I think the fact was first 
discovered by the troops on Gulp's Hill, and what a cheer 
went up ! A cheer that swelled into a roar, and was 
taken up by the boys on Cemetery Hill, rolled along the 
crest to Round Top, and then back again. Cheers for the 
Philadelphia Brigade, that stood a living wall against 
which the hosts beat in vain. Cheers for Meade, the sol- 
dier < without fear and without reproach,' who here began, 
with a great victory, his illustrious career as commander 
of the Army of the Potomac. Cheers for Hancock, who 
had stemmed the tide of defeat on the first day, and se- 
lected the ground on which this glorious victory was 
achieved ; who, on the second day, had again stopped the 
tide of Rebel victory, and restored our shattered lines ; 
and, on the third day, had met and repulsed the final as- 
sault, on which Lee's all was staked, and won the battle 
that was really the death-blow of the rebellion." 

An interesting incident in connection with General 
Armistead's defection from the United States Army, at 
the outbreak of the Rebellion, is related by General Han- 
cock. It occurred at Los Angeles early in 1861. Armi- 
stead was there with Hancock, a captain and brevet major. 
Virginia, his native State, called upon him to support her 
cause, and, under the influence of this demand, he sided 
with the Confederates. On leaving Los Angeles, he pre- 
sented General Hancock with his major's uniform, say- 
ing that the latter " might some time need it." He also 
placed in his hands for safe-keeping, and to be given to 
his family if he should fall in battle, certain valuable pri- 
vate papers. These General Hancock sent to General 
Armistead's sister (who had married a Union officer) at 
the close of the war. Armistead also presented to Han- 
cock a little prayer-book, which is still in the latter's pos- 


session. On a fly-leaf of the book is the following in- 
scription : " Lewis A. Armistead. Trust in God and 
fear nothing." It may be observed, by the way, that 
General Hancock never needed the major's uniform ; he 
skipped the grades from captain to brigadier-general. 


General Hancock's Progress to Norristown Popular Demonstrations on the 
Road Reception at Home Presentation of a Service of Plate to Gen- 
eral Hancock His Convalescence Joins his Family at Longwood, near 
St. Louis Reports for Duty at Washington, December 15, 1863 Re- 
turns to his Command of the Second Army Corps General Grant is 
appointed General-in-Chief of the Armies, and takes Immediate Com- 
mand of the Forces in Virginia Reconstruction of the Army of the 
Potomac General Hancock ordered North on Recruiting Service 
Grand Review by General Grant of the Second Corps (30,000 Men) 
Situation of the Confederate Army Campaign of 1864 The " Wilder- 

GENERAL HANCOCK, as lias been already stated, re- 
turned to his father's house in Norristown, when unfitted 
for active service by the severe wound which he received 
at Gettysburg. It displays the nature of the popular 
impression with regard to him, and particularly that of 
his old friends and fellow townsmen in Norristown, that 
General Hancock's painful journey from the field of bat- 
tle was marked by expressions of popular interest all 
along the route, and which culminated on his reaching 
his childhood's home. The mode of his transportation 
was in itself impressive. His form was extended upon a 
stretcher placed upon the backs of the seats of the rail- 
way car, and was thus carried from "Westminster to Bal- 
timore, thence to Philadelphia, and from there to Norris- 
town. His brilliant career had won the admiration of 
his countrymen, and when the tidings of his wounding 


spread abroad, universal sympathy was awakened, so that, 
wherever it was known that the wounded hero was pass- 
ing, crowds flocked to obtain, if possible, a glance 'at the 
shattered form of one so celebrated. "When he arrived at 
the Norristown station, he was met by a large detachment 
of the invalid guards, who tenderly placed him upon their 
shoulders and bore him along the streets to his parental 
home. As they passed along, crowds of the citizens of 
his native town gazed with silent and respectful sympathy 
upon the man who had gone from their midst a sprightly 
boy, and was now returned to them wounded and shaken, 
but bearing the highest military rank, the well-earned 
measure of brilliant heroism in many a battle. "We can 
imagine but inadequately the mingled feelings of tender- 
ness, pride, and gratitude with which that noble father 
and gentle mother would receive under such circum- 
stances the son of their love and admiration. 'Nor can 
we fully conceive of the tide of thrilling memories that 
would crowd upon the General when he found himself 
lying helpless in the home of his boyhood, surrounded 
by so many of the companions of his youth. 

But careful surgical attention, and the vigor of a 
sound constitution, produced slow but sure convalescence, 
and, although the wound was not entirely healed, and 
continued to give him serious trouble for many years, he 
eventually became entirely qualified for renewed active 
service in the field. Meanwhile, his enforced retirement 
was rendered less irksome by the many kind attentions 
which he received from his fellow citizens, expressions of 
their estimation of his character and public services. 
Among these was the presentation by some of the citizens 
of Norristown of an elegant service of plate (gold and 
silver) with the following inscription and device : 







July 4, 1864. 

Surmounting the inscription was the badge of the 
Second Corps, the trefoil, or three-leaf clover. Such a 
token of regard, costly and valuable in itself, was doubly 
so coming from the companions of his boyhood, reversing 
in his case the proverb, that men are not apt to be hon- 
ored in their own country and among their own kindred. 
Not only at Norristown, but in Philadelphia, in New 
York, and at "West Point, he was greeted with enthusias- 
tic manifestations of popular regard, when he was so far 
restored as to visit those places. His reception at his old 
military school at West Point was peculiarly cordial. 
There he had the gratification to meet the aged chieftain, 
General Scott, who highly complimented him upon the 
brilliancy of his services, and expressed the pride he felt 
in one who bore his name so gloriously.* 

As soon as General Hancock was able to endure the 
journey, he set out to join his wife and children at Long- 
wood, near St. Louis. In a letter to his father written at 
that place, dated October 12, 1863, he says : 

" I threw aside my crutches a few days after my arrival, 

* A letter is still in existence which was written by Captain, now Gen- 
eral Hancock, to Lieutenant-General Scott, dated Los Angeles, California* 
March 1, 1861, in which the Captain expresses the most patriotic sentiments, 
deprecates the Secession movement, and intimates a wish that he may be 
permitted to render some service to the Union cause. Lieutenant-General 
Scott was at that time Commander-in-Chicf of the army. 


and now walk with a cane. I am improving, but do not 
yet walk without a little roll. My wound is still unhealed, 
though the doctors say it is closing rapidly ; I find some 
uneasiness in sitting long in my chair, and can not yet 
ride. The bone appears to be injured, and may give me 
trouble for a long time. I am busy trimming up the for- 
est trees in the lawn of < Longwood,' which covers nearly 
eleven acres. . . . Allie and the children send their best 
love to you and mother. Please give my best love to 

"I remain, as ever, your affectionate son, 


While it is impracticable to detail here all of the 
manifestations of public regard, which, at about this time, 
were tendered to General Hancock, room must be made 
for mention of a few of these instances. 

In February, 1864, the Select and Common Councils 
of Philadelphia passed the following resolutions : 

"Resolved, By the Select and Common Councils of the 
City of Philadelphia, that the thanks of the citizens of 
Philadelphia are eminently due and are hereby tendered 
to Major-General Hancock, for his brilliant services in 
the cause of the Union, during the present unholy Rebel- 
lion against the authority of the Government and people 
of the United States. 

"Resolved, That the use of Independence Hall be 
granted to General Hancock for the reception of his 
friends, and in order to afford the citizens of Phila- 
delphia an opportunity to testify their personal regard 
for him, and their appreciation of his gallantry and 

"Resolved, That the Mayor of Philadelphia and the 


Presidents of Councils be requested to carry these resolu- 
tions into effect ; and that the Clerks of Councils be re- 
quested to furnish a copy of the same to General Hancock. 

"President Common Council. 

" President Select Council. 
"Attest: WM. F. SMALL, 

" Cleric of Common Council, February 18, 1864. 
" Approved : ALEXANDER HENRY, Mayor" 

These resolutions were duly transmitted to General 
Hancock, and their receipt was acknowledged by him, 
under date of February 22d, in a graceful letter, accept- 
ing the tender of Independence Hall for a reception to 
his friends. In this letter the General said : " I am 
deeply sensible of the honor thus conferred, and do not 
feel at liberty, for many reasons, to decline the honor of 
a public reception, notwithstanding the doubt I may have 
as to my right, by accepting, to lay claim to such a testi- 
monial. If I possess any such claims, it is due to the 
brave soldiers who have fought under my command, very 
many of whom are citizens of Philadelphia. To receive 
congratulations which may reflect credit upon them will 
be a sufficient reason for my acceptance. It will show 
them that their countrymen are not unmindful of their 
military services, and will stimulate them to greater deeds 
of heroism." The reception was held in Independence 
Hall on the afternoon of February 25, 1864, and was a 
most impressive occasion. 

At about the same period the " Union League " of 
Philadelphia presented General Hancock with a hand- 
some silver medal, struck in commemoration of its grati- 
tude and admiration for his eminent public services. 


Here may also be properly introduced the following 
resolution of Congress, passed unanimously by both 
Houses, and approved April 21, 1866. It was a recog- 
nition by the representatives of the entire country of the 
distinguished part borne by General Hancock in the bat- 
tle of Gettysburg. The joint resolution of January 28, 
1864, to which reference is herein made, omitted, by some 
strange inadvertence, to make any mention of the name 
of Winfield Scott Hancock : 

" Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representa- 
tives, That in addition to the thanks heretofore voted by 
joint resolution, approved January 28, 1864, to Major- 
General George G. Meade, Major-General O. O. Howard, 
and to the officers and soldiers of the Army of the Poto- 
mac, for the skill and heroic valor which, at Gettysburg, 
repulsed, defeated, and drove back broken and dis- 
pirited the veteran army of the Rebellion : the grati- 
tude of the American people and the thanks of their 
representatives in Congress are likewise due and are 
hereby tendered to Major-General Winfield Scott Han- 
cock, for his gallant, meritorious, and conspicuous share 
in that great and decisive victory." 

On March 2, 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant, who had 
captured Yicksburg, Mississippi, after a continuous siege, 
lasting from May 22 to July 4, 1863, and who, on this 
latter date, had been commissioned major-general in the 
United States Army, received his commission as lieu- 
tenant-general, and, on March 17, 1864, assumed com- 
mand of the Union forces in Yirginia, of which forces 
the Army of the Potomac was now reorganized into three 
corps : the Second, under Major-General "Winfield Scott 


Hancock ; the Fifth, under Major-General Governeur 
K. Warren; and the Sixth, under Major-General Sedg- 
wick, General Meade being still in chief command. " The 
three corps commanders," says Swinton, " were men of a 
high order of ability, though of very diverse types of 
character. Hancock may be characterized as the ideal of 
a soldier. Gifted with a magnetic presence and a su- 
perb personal gallantry, he was one of those lordly lead- 
ers who, upon the actual field of battle, rule the hearts of 
troops with a potent and irresistible mastery. Warren, 
young in the command of a corps, owed his promotion 
to the signal proofs he had given, first as Brigadier, then 
as Chief Engineer, and, latterly, as the temporary com- 
mander of the Second Corps. Sedgwick, long the hon- 
ored chief of the Sixth Corps, was the exemplar of sol- 
dierly obedience to duty." 

General Hancock, who had reported for duty at Wash- 
ington on the 15th of December, 1863, proceeded thence 
to the headquarters of the Second Corps, then lying in 
winter cantonments on the Rapidan, near Stevensburg, 
Yirginia, and resumed the command of the corps. He 
remained there a few weeks, when he was summoned to 
Washington, and requested by the authorities there to 
make a tour to some of the Northern States on recruiting 
service for the Second Corps. He was successful in se- 
curing large accessions to his corps, and, when these du- 
ties had been completed, rejoined the Army of the Poto- 
mac in March, 1864, and resumed his command. Soon 
after his return to the army, the reorganization, already 
alluded to, was effected, and the Second Corps was ree'n- 
forced by adding to it two divisions of the Third Corps, 
the latter being discontinued. The three divisions con- 
stituting the Second Corps were consolidated into two ; 


and, as finally arranged, the divisions and brigades of the 
Corps were as follows : 

First Division, Brigadier-General F. C. Barlow. 
First Brigade, Colonel JS". A. Miles. 
Second Brigade (Irish), Colonel T. A. Smythe. 
Third Brigade, Colonel E. Frank. 
Fourth Brigade, Colonel J. R. Brooke. 

Second Division, Brigadier-General John Gibbon. 
First Brigade, Brigadier-General A. S. "Webb. 
Second Brigade, Brigadier- General J. P. Owens. 
Third Brigade, Colonel S. S. Carroll. 

Third Division, Major-General D. B. Birney. 
First Brigade, Brigadier-General J. H. Ward. 
Second Brigade, Brigadier-General Alexander Hays. 

Fourth Division, Brigadier-General J. B. Carr. 
First Brigade, Brigadier-General G. Mott. 
Second Brigade, Colonel "W. R. Brewster. 

Inspector-General and Chief of Staff, Lieutenant- 
Colonel C. H. Morgan. 
Chief of Artillery, Colonel J. C. Tidball. 

It will be observed that General Gibbon had rejoined 
his division, and that General Caldwell had been relieved 
from the command of the First Division, which was given 
to General F. C. Barlow. The latter was not a stranger 
to the division, having commanded one of the most dis- 
tinguished regiments in it, the Sixty-first New York 
Yolunteers, until severely wounded at Antietam, Septem- 
ber IT, 1862. Immediately after the opening of this 
campaign, Brigadier-General Mott assumed command of 
the Fourth Division. 


A few days before the opening of the campaign, the 
Second Corps was reviewed by General Grant. Over 
30,000 men, the greater number of them veterans, marched 
by on that occasion, and presented, perhaps, the finest 
parade ever witnessed in the Army of the Potomac. But 
in less than one year this corps alone lost by the casualties 
of war, not only the vast numbers that had marched 
proudly by General Grant, but nearly 10,000 more, its 
casualties amounting to upward of 35,000 men, or about 
one-third of the entire forces operating against Rich- 

When the campaign of 1864 opened, the Confederate 
army, under General Lee, occupied the bluff ridges which 
skirt the south bank of the Rapidan, a position strong by 
nature, and so strengthened by works as to make a direct 
attack upon him impracticable. He could only be drawn 
from it by a turning movement. His left would have 
been more easily flanked ; but that process would have 
carried Grant's army too far from its base of supplies. 
He determined, therefore, to cross the Rapidan by its 
lower fords, and turn Lee's right. Grant's original pro- 
gramme was to gain his adversary's rear, and he had given 
instructions to this effect to his corps commanders ; but, 
as we shall see, the resistance to his progress by the enemy 
prevented the carrying out of this plan, and brought on 
the battles of the "Wilderness." Instead of retreating 
out of the region called by this name, Lee resolved to 
give battle in it. 

The Wilderness is an extensive tract of table-land 
which stretches from the south bank of the Rapidan 
southward. It is seamed with ravines, and, with the ex- 
ception of a few small clearings, is covered with a dense 
growth of dwarf timber and underbrush. The forward 


movement from the Union camps was commenced about 
midnight of the 3d of May, 1864. 

Not to enter upon full details of these engagements, 
the operations of General Hancock are pertinent, and 
will be given with only such other material as shall render 
the narrative intelligible. 


The Wilderness Crossing the Rapidan The Enemy in Force Forming 
the Line of Battle Attack of the Second Corps Close Quarters in the 
Woods Nightfall, and Cessation of Fighting Brigadier-General Hays 
killed A Serious Loss. 

THE Second Corps moved from its camp on the night 
of May 3d, with between 29,000 and 30,000 men and 
officers fit for duty, embracing eighty-four regiments of 
infantry, and a brigade of artillery, consisting of nine 
batteries. During the campaign, about twenty-five regi- 
ments were added to the Corps, making the number of 
its regiments one hundred and nine.* 

Crossing the Rapidan on the morning of the 4th at 
Ely's Ford, the Corps forming the left column of the 
army marched to Chancellorville and bivouacked for the 
night, General Hancock's headquarters being established 
at the edge of the small peach orchard from which his 
division, just one year and a day before, had drawn 
from the field by hand Lepine's Fifth Maine Battery, 
after it had lost all of its officers, cannoneers, and horses. 
The gallant young Kirby, who had been placed tem- 
porarily in command after its officers had been disabled, 
received his death-wound while in command of this bat- 
tery. The bones of horses and half-buried dead were 
yet visible here and there on the field. 

* Included in this reinforcement were Tyler's division of heavy artil- 
lery, then acting as infantry, and the " Corcoran Legion." 


Lee had offered no opposition to the crossing of the 
river by the Union army. One hundred thousand men, 
with their enormous train of 4,000 wagons, were passed 
over the Rapidan without molestation. "Why he made no 
resistance is not clear. But it is probable that he was 
willing that this vast mass of men and impedimenta should 
become entangled in the Wilderness, in hope that he 
might destroy or capture them. It was bold forbearance. 

At 5 A. M. on the 5th, the Second Corps took up 
its line of march for Shady Grove Church, where the 
left of the army was to have rested, had the movement 
been uninterrupted. 

The advance of the column was nearly an hour's march 
beyond Todd's tavern, when, at 9 A. M., hearing firing 
to the right, General Hancock halted, as the enemy had 
been discovered in some force on the Wilderness turn- 
pike, and two hours later received orders from General 
Meade to move up the Brock road to its intersection 
with the Orange plank road. Birney's division, then in 
the rear, formed the head of the column in the retro- 
grade march. 

General Hancock preceded his troops to the point 
indicated, where he found General Getty, with his divis- 
ion of the Sixth Corps, who had secured and held posses- 
sion of the Orange plank road and the Brock road after 
a hard fight. On his backward march from Todd's tav- 
ern, General Hancock met the reserve artillery of the 
army, which had followed his column from Chancellor- 
ville, and advised its commander to return with it to 
that point, as the movement of the Second Corps then 
in progress would leave him unprotected by the infan- 
try, and from Chancellorville he could move up on either 
the Orange plank road or the old Wilderness turnpike. 


The head of Birney's division arrived on the ground 
about 2 P. M., and the troops formed at once in two 
lines of battle on Getty's left, along the Brock road. 
Mott's and Gibbon's divisions followed immediately, 
forming in succession in two lines on Birney's left. 
Frank's brigade of Barlow's division was stationed at the 
junction of the Brock and Catharpen roads, and the re- 
mainder of the First Division was established on some 
high cleared ground in front of the Brock road, forming 
the left of our line. This elevated ground commanded 
the country for some distance to the right and left, and 
was the only point on our line of battle where artillery 
could have any effective range, and, indeed, the only 
ground on which it could be brought into battery. The 
whole artillery brigade was therefore massed with Bar- 
low's division, except Dow's Sixth Maine Battery and one 
section of Rickett's F Company, First Pennsylvania. 
Dow was posted on the second line on Mott's left. The 
section of Rickett's battery was placed on the plank road 
under the orders of General Getty, who had been hotly 
engaged, and repulsed the enemy. Upon General Han- 
cock's arrival, General Getty informed him that he mo- 
mentarily expected an attack from the two divisions of 
Hill's corps, known to be immediately in the Wilderness, 
a few hundred yards in his front ; and to meet this antici- 
pated assault General Hancock at once ordered breast- 
works of logs and earth to be built along his entire front 
line of battle ; subsequently a line of breastworks was 
also thrown up along the second line. 

The formation of the lines was accomplished slowly on 
account of the narrowness of the Brock road (it was only 
wide enough for a column of fours), the density of the 
forest on either side of it, and the fact that it was im- 


practicable to get the artillery out of the way of the in- 
fantry until the cleared ground, before mentioned, was 

At 2.15 P. M. General Hancock received a dispatch 
from Major-General Meade (commanding the Army of 
the Potomac), which stated that the enemy held the Orange 
plank road nearly to its junction with the Brock road 
(the point just referred to), and directing him to attack 
with his own troops and Getty's division, and to endeavor 
to connect with Warren (Fifth Corps) on the Orange 
plank road, also stating that Griffin's division of the Fifth 
Corps had been driven back on the Orange pike, and that 
Warren's left, Crawford's division, was within one mile 
of Parker's store. Fifteen minutes later another dispatch 
was received by General Hancock from army headquar- 
ters, stating that the enemy's infantry had driven our cav- 
alry down the Orange plank road from Parker's store, and 
that a portion of A. P. Hill's corps was then moving 
on that road toward the intersection of the Brock road 
which Getty's troops were then holding. The same dis- 
patch stated that Getty had been ordered to drive the en- 
emy back on the Orange plank road, but that he might 
not be strong enough to do so, and General Hancock was 
directed to move out to support Getty toward Parker's 
store, to drive the enemy beyond that point, and to hold 
it and to unite with General Warren's left. 

When these dispatches reached General Hancock, the 
greater portion of his command was marching up the 
Brock road from Todd's tavern, and was not yet in posi- 
tion to attack. General Hancock himself rode back 
along the column to hasten its movements, which, for 
reasons before given, were necessarily slow. 

Between 3 and 4 p. M. orders were sent to General 


Hancock from army headquarters to attack with Getty's 
division, and to support the advance with the entire Sec- 
ond Corps ; but at this hour Birney's division (the leading 
one) was the only one formed, and it was therefore im- 
practicable to execute the order at that moment. 

At 4.15 P. M. General Getty moved out his division, 
on either side of the Orange plank road, under direct 
orders from General Meade, received while General 
Hancock was along the Brock road hurrying up his troops. 
When General Hancock returned to the junction of the 
Brock and Orange plank roads, he learned from General 
Getty that he was directed to attack without waiting for 
the Second Corps, and had already ordered his troops to ad- 
vance. General Hancock told him that he regretted that 
he could not have waited until the Second Corps was up 
and formed, but he would reenforce him at once on his 
right and left, and support him as rapidly as possible. 

Getty had not advanced more than three hundred 
paces into the dense wood when he encountered the ene- 
my's line of battle, and the fight at once became so fierce 
that General Hancock ordered Birney forward with his 
own and Mott's division to Getty's assistance, although 
the formations which General Hancock had hoped to 
have completed before advancing to the attack were not 
yet perfected. 

Birney moved into action on Getty's right and left, 
and a section of Rickett's Pennsylvania Battery advanced 
along the plank road just in rear of the infantry line. 

The importance of General Hancock's design of hav- 
ing his attacking force thoroughly in hand before he as- 
sailed the enemy's line became very evident now, for the 
battle at once assumed such proportions that it was not easy 
to push reinforcements in sufficiently fast to sustain it. 


At 4.30 P. M. Carroll's brigade, of Gibbon's division, 
was hurried into the fight on the right of the plank road, 
Owen's brigade, same division, following closely. 

The " Irish Brigade," Colonel Thomas Smythe (who 
was the last general officer killed during the war), Second 
Delaware Volunteers, commanding, and Colonel John K. 
Brooke's brigade, both of Barlow's division, made a forci- 
ble attack on the enemy's right, and drove it back some 

The battle raged furiously until it became too dark to 
see (about 8 p. M.). The lines were very close together, 
at some points not more than fifty paces apart, and the 
thickets were so dense and tangled that it was impossible 
for the commanders to see how the battle was going, or 
to obtain any insight into the enemy's plans or inten- 
tions. The section of Eickett's battery which had gone 
into action on the plank road when Getty and Birney ad- 
vanced suffered most severely in men and horses from 
the enemy's musketry. At one time it was captured, but 
was gallantly retaken by a detachment of the Eighth 
Ohio and Fourteenth Indiana regiments, of Carroll's bri- 
gade. It was then replaced by a section of Dow's Sixth 
Maine Battery. ISTo decided advantage remained with 
either party when night set in, save that Smythe and 
Brooke had driven the enemy's right, as before stated, 
his left remaining firm, notwithstanding the fierce onset 
of our troops. His line, however, was in great confu- 

Among the killed during this day's battle was Briga- 
dier-General Alexander Hays (a Pennsylvanian by birth), 
one of the most chivalrous and intrepid soldiers that ever 
wore a sword. He was a heroic leader of troops in bat- 
tle, and his loss was irreparable to the Second Corps. 


At Gettysburg, at Bristow's Station, at Mine Run, he 
had led his division, colors in hand, in full view of the 
enemy, where he was a mark for a thousand rifles, only 
to meet death in these tangled thickets, where his per- 
sonal example could hardly be seen or felt by more than 
a single battalion. 


The Wilderness Second Day of the Fight Hancock ordered to attack 
His Preparations The Battle opens The Enemy driven back at all 
Points Hancock's Corps reenf orced by one Division of the Ninth Corps 
Burnside comes up Sheridan's Cavalry attack Longstreet A 
Blunder Convalescent Union Soldiers mistaken for Confederates 
Longstreet's Assault in Force Our Left broken Retirement of the 
Union Forces Our Breastworks captured and retaken Conflagration 
The Union Forces retire toward Spottsylvania Court-House. 

DURING the night of the 5th, General Hancock re- 
ceived orders to renew his attack on the morning of the 
6th at 5 A. M. He was cautioned to look out for his left 
flank, and was informed that his right would be relieved 
by an attack of Wadsworth's division of the Fifth Corps 
and two divisions of the Ninth Corps under General 
Burnside. Getty's division, Sixth Corps, remained under 
General Hancock's orders. 

Before the attack was commenced on the morning of 
the 6th, General Hancock was informed from army head- 
quarters that Longstreet was passing up the Catharpen 
road to attack his flank. We shall see that this informa- 
tion had a decided effect upon the course of the action, 
and preparations were at once made for Longstreet's re- 
ception. Barlow's division was placed in position to op- 
pose him, and the artillery was posted to cover the road 
leading from the Catharpen to the Brock road, along 
which it was supposed Longstreet would advance. A 


strong skirmish line was also thrown out covering the 
Brock road. These dispositions were made under the 
supervision of Major-General Gibbon, who commanded 
the left of General Hancock's line (his own and Barlow's 
divisions), and General C. H. Morgan, General Hancock's 
Chief of Staff. 

General Birney was placed in command of the right 
(Third and Fourth divisions, Second Corps, and Getty's 
division, Sixth Corps). 

At 5 A. M. the hour appointed Birney moved to the 
attack along the Orange plank road with his own, Mott's, 
and Getty's divisions. Carroll's and Owen's brigades of 
Gibbon's division followed in his support. 

The battle at once opened, Birney assaulting with 
great vigor, and, after a bloody contest at close quarters 
with musketry alone, the enemy's line was broken at all 
points, and he was driven in confusion through the forest 
for about one and a half miles with much slaughter. 
The troops, having been thrown into some disorder by 
their long advance under fire through the dense thickets, 
were now halted by General Birney's orders to readjust 
the lines, General Birney personally informing General 
Hancock on the field of the necessity for this halt. 
About this hour Webb's brigade of Gibbon's division 
relieved Getty's division, Sixth Corps, which had lost 
very heavily. Getty's division reformed along the Brock 
road. At 7 A. M. General Hancock sent an aide to Gen- 
eral Gibbon to order in a division upon the enemy's right 
to fight up toward the Orange plank road. The intended 
movement did not, however, take place in force. 

Subsequent events made it plain that an attack by 
Barlow's entire division, at that time one of the most 
powerful in the army, if it had not resulted in the com- 


plete overthrow of the enemy, would at least have pre- 
vented the subsequent turning of Mott's left flank. We 
shall see how the anticipated attack of Longstreet still 
further paralyzed General Hancock's left wing. 

At 8 A. M. Stevenson's division of the Ninth Corps 
reported to General Hancock, at the intersection of the 
Brock and plank roads, and reenforced Birney. Wads- 
worth's division of the Fifth Corps went into action on 
the right of the plank road 1 about the same hour, connect- 
ing with General Birney's line. 

About this time General Hancock was notified from 
army headquarters that .General Burnside had pushed 
forward nearly to Parker's store, and would attack with 
two divisions across General Hancock's front to relieve 
his troops. 

Meantime the enemy made some demonstrations on 
the left, which were the source of considerable uneasi- 
ness, until the receipt of a dispatch from army headquar- 
ters stating that General Sheridan with a division of 
cavalry had been ordered to attack Longstreet (who was 
supposed to be advancing in that direction). 

At 8.50 A. M. Birney's, Stevenson's, Mott's, and Wads- 
worth's divisions, with Webb's, Carroll's, and Owen's 
brigades of Gibbon's division, again advanced along the 
Orange plank road, and the battle was resumed with more 
fierceness and determination than ever, if that were possi- 
ble. The action at this point had hardly been recom- 
menced when the left flank was seriously threatened, the 
enemy pressing forward their skirmishers, and opening 
with their artillery, as if an advance was intended there. 
Rapid firing was heard also in the direction of Todd's tav- 
ern, which was thought to be General Sheridan's troops at- 
tacking Longstreet there. To strengthen this impression, 


one of those incidents, trivial in themselves, but which 
lead sometimes to great results, occurred. One of Gen- 
eral Hancock's staff, who was engaged in constructing a 
defensive line across the Brock road on the left, hearing 
the firing in the direction of Todd's tavern, rode out for 
a mile and a half, to examine the country and to get what 
information he could concerning the state of affairs. 
Through an opening in the woods he saw a column of 
infantry moving, and, though not able to satisfy himself 
absolutely as to whether they were Confederate or Union 
soldiers, the officer reported the movement to General 
Hancock. It being certain that the troops seen were in- 
fantry, and that they were moving from the direction of 
Todd's tavern, General Hancock thought there was little 
room to doubt that it was Longstreet's column, and 
Brooke's brigade of Barlow's division was at once thrown 
into the works which had been constructed. 

The column seen afterward proved to be a body of 
convalescents sent from " Convalescent Camp," near Alex- 
andria, Virginia, to join their regiments. They had fol- 
lowed the route of the Second Corps across the Rapidan, 
and blundered down from Chancellorville to Todd's tavern 
at that inopportune moment, whence they retraced their 
steps by the Brock road into our lines. Their uniforms 
being gray with dust rendered it difficult at a distance 
to distinguish them from the Confederates. 

Two other brigades, Leasure's, of the Ninth Corps, 
and Eustis's, of the Sixth, had come up and reported in 
the mean time to General Hancock, and were held in 
readiness to support Barlow, should they be required at 
that point. 

The troops thus disposed of could have been spared 
(as it afterward turned out) to have reenforced the attack 


along the plank road, for Longstreet about this time 
abandoned his anticipated flank march, and came in to the 
assistance of Hill, who had been thoroughly used up. It 
was ascertained that General Sheridan had had an en- 
counter with Stewart's cavalry. 

About 10 A. M. another incident occurred on General 
Hancock's right, which drew off a portion of his attack- 
ing force at a critical hour of the day General Meade 
sending him word that a brigade of the Fifth Corps (Cut- 
ler's) had fallen back out of the woods, considerably dis- 
organized, reporting heavy losses, and that the enemy's 
skirmishers were within half a mile of General War- 
ren's headquarters. General Meade stated that he had 
no troops which he could use to check this advance of the 
enemy, and directed General Hancock to take the neces- 
sary measures at once. General Birney was accordingly 
ordered to send two brigades to restore the line of the 
Fifth Corps, where it was reported broken on Warren's 
left. A short time afterward General Birney informed 
General Hancock that he had reestablished connection 
with the Fifth Corps and restored the lines where Cut- 
ler had fallen back. It was at this time, while General 
Hancock was about to renew his advance along the plank 
road with a column of 20,000 men under Birney, and 
while he was receiving dispatches from his extreme left 
attributing the firing in that direction (Todd's tavern) to 
Longstreet, that the latter commenced his assault to re- 
lieve Hill's shattered corps. 

Striking Frank's brigade of Barlow's division (on 
Mott's left), which had lost severely in the early part of 
the day, and had nearly exhausted its ammunition, Long- 
street forced it rapidly back, and then, encountering the 
left of Mott's division, compelled it in turn to retire. 


This vehement onset by Longstreet caused disorder 
among the troops, and, although General Hancock made 
great efforts to hold his advanced position along the plank 
road by refusing the left of his line, he was unable to do 
so on account of the disorganization of the troops before 
referred to, and the nature of the field, which prevented 
him from seeing or being seen for more than a few rods. 
The personal bravery and example which, on the heights 
at Gettysburg or on the bloody slope at Fredericksburg, 
might be seen by and restore confidence to thousands, on 
this field narrowed to the view of a single regiment. 

It should be stated here that our troops had been for 
many hours previous to Longstreet's advance under a 
murderous musketry fire ; many valuable officers whom 
they had been accustomed to follow had been lost ; and 
that they had advanced a long distance through dense 
thickets where their formation had been partly broken. 
The weather also was excessively hot, and the men suffered 
from want of water. 

General Hancock now ordered General Birney, who 
was in immediate command of this portion of our lines, 
to withdraw his troops from the forest, where it was al- 
most impracticable to adjust the lines, and to reform 
them in our breastworks along the Brock road, our origi- 
nal line of battle. The enemy followed closely, but did 
not immediately assail our line probably owing to the 
fact of Longstreet having been wounded at this moment. 

To gain time, and to check the enemy, should he at- 
tempt to carry our breastworks while our lines were being 
reformed, General Hancock directed Colonel Leasure's 
brigade of the Ninth Corps to advance and sweep the 
thickets and woods along the front of our line to the 
right toward the Orange plank road, keeping his right 


about one hundred paces from our breastworks, to attack 
the enemy's right flank, if in position. These instructions 
were carried out by Colonel Leasure with great promptness 
and success. Forming his brigade at right angles to our 
line of breastworks, he marched across the entire front 
of Mott's and Birney's divisions, crossing the Orange 
plank road, and encountering, as he proceeded, what he 
believed to be a brigade of the enemy' forces, which fell 
back in disorder without engaging him. After he had very 
fully and intelligently executed General Hancock's orders, 
he resumed his position on our right in the line of battle. 

During this morning's battle Colonel Carroll was shot 
through the arm. General Hancock meeting him, and 
supposing he was on his way to the hospital, asked him 
who would command his brigade during his absence. 
Carroll replied with some spirit that he " had not yet 
given up the command of his brigade, and was not yet 
done fighting." 

No further movements of importance took place on 
either side until a few minutes after 4 p. M. (our efforts 
in the mean time being exerted to rearrange and perfect 
our lines), when the enemy advanced in force under the 
command of Lee in person, pushing forward until he 
came to the edge of the slashed timber, less than one hun- 
dred paces from our breastworks, when he halted and 
continued a heavy musketry fire. Though his fire was 
heavy, but little execution was done among our troops, 
owing to our breastworks and the conformation of the 
ground ; but, after about thirty minutes of this work had 
passed, some of our men began to waver, and finally a 
portion of Mott's division and part of Ward's brigade of 
Birney's division in the first line gave way in consider- 
able disorder. 


General Hancock made great exertions to rally the 
men, and numbers of them were returned to the line of 

As soon as the break in our lines above referred to 
occurred, the enemy pressed forward, and some of his 
men reached our breastworks and planted their colors on 

At this moment General Birney, who was standing 
just in rear of the section of Dow's battery, at the cross- 
roads, turned to Colonel Carroll, whose brigade was in two 
lines just on the right of the plank road, saying : " Car- 
roll, you must put your brigade in there and drive the 
enemy back." With the promptness which always char- 
acterized that officer, when ordered against the enemy, he 
moved his brigade by the left flank across the plank road 
until opposite the point abandoned by our troops, and then 
by the right flank in double time, retaking the line with 
ease, and with the loss of a few men, the enemy falling 
back, suffering severely under the withering fire which 
our troops now poured into their ranks. On the opposite 
(left) flank of the break in our lines, reinforcements were 
promptly sent by General Gibbon, Brooke's brigade of 
Barlow's division having been just anticipated by Carroll's 
reaching the breastwork first and driving the enemy back. 
A portion of Dow's Sixth Maine battery on Mott's line 
handsomely assisted in the repulse of the enemy. It de- 
livered a most destructive fire at short range as the enemy 
rushed for our works, and was served with admirable 
steadiness and gallantry. 

The confusion among a portion of Mott's and Birney's 
divisions, on this occasion, was increased very much, if 
not indeed originated, by our front line of breastworks 
having caught fire just before the enemy made his ad- 


vance, the fire having been communicated to it from the 
woods in front (the battle-ground of the previous day and 
that morning), which had been burning for some hours. 
The breastworks on this part of the line were built of dr y 
logs, and just at the moment of the enemy's advance were 
a mass of flames, the fire extending for several hundred 
yards to the right and left. The intense heat and smoke, 
which a prevailing wind blew directly into the faces of 
our men, prevented them from firing over the parapet, 
and, at some points, even drove them from the line. 

No incident of the war has been more persistently or 
grossly misrepresented than this affair. Many histories 
of the battle of the Wilderness notably Greeley's, Cop- 
pee's, and Anchor's make this the fiercest and most 
successful attack by the enemy during the day, and state 
that the tide was only turned in our favor by troops sent 
by General Grant, when, in truth, except for the break- 
ing of Ward's brigade of Birney's division, and some of 
Mott's troops, the assault would not have been considered 
of the first magnitude among the many engagements in 
which the Second Corps had taken part. 

General Hancock had received an order to attack again 
at 6 r. M., but that order was countermanded when Gen- 
eral Meade was informed of the attack of Longstreet on 
General Hancock's lines. Between 6 and 7 P. M. General 
Hancock was summoned to headquarters of the army for 
consultation. While on his way thither, he was called 
upon for troops to help General Sedgwick (Sixth Corps), 
whose line had been broken by the enemy. Getty's 
division (then commanded by Wheat on, in consequence 
of General Getty having been wounded) was at once sent 
to its own corps. 

The night of the Cth and the morning of the 7th 


passed without material incident, except that early on the 
morning of the 7th a reconnoissance was made under 
General Birnej's direction, which discovered that the 
enemy did not hold the Orange plank road for a long dis- 
tance in our front. 

At 9 A. M. on the 7th a dispatch to General Hancock 
from army headquarters informed him that the move- 
ments of the enemy indicated an attack on his own or 
General Warren's lines, but the day passed with only 
some slight skirmishing. 

At daylight on the morning of the 8th, in accordance 
with orders from army headquarters, General Hancock 
withdrew his corps from its position on the Brock road, 
and covered the rear of the army during its movements 
toward Spottsylvania Court-house. 


Battle of the Wilderness General Hancock's Report Difficulties of the 
Situation Anticipated Movements not executed Complimentary Ref- 
erence to Officers of his Corps Splendid Testimonial to Generals 
Hays and Wadsworth A Brave Young Massachusetts Officer Tabu- 
lated Statement of Losses in the Second Corps General Ilancock in 
Command of Sixty Thousand Men. 

IN concluding Iris official report of this great battle, 
General Hancock says, as follows : 

" I am aware that I have given but a meager sketch 
of the part taken by the troops under my command in 
the battle of the Wilderness. The nature of the country 
in which that battle was fought is well known. It was 
covered by a dense forest, almost impenetrable by the 
troops in line of battle, where manoeuvring was an opera- 
tion of extreme difficulty and uncertainty. 

" The undergrowth was so heavy that it was scarcely 
possible to see more than a hundred paces in any direction 
no movements of the enemy could be observed until 
the lines were almost in collision. Only the roar of the 
musketry disclosed the position of the combatants to 
those who were at any distance, and my knowledge of 
what was occurring on the field, except in my immediate 
position, was limited, and was necessarily derived from 
reports of subordinates commanding. 

" The casualties of service then, and subsequently, have 
rendered it impossible for me to obtain the official reports 


of many of the gallant officers who took a prominent and 
distinguished part in that great battle. Major-General 
Birney, Brigadier-Generals Wadsworth, Stevenson, and 
Hays are dead. General Barlow is in Europe, and Gen- 
erals Ward and Owens are out of service. I have applied 
to General Getty for his report, but have not yet received 
it. Looking at the action after so long a time has elapsed, 
it seems that the expected movement of Longstreet upon 
the left flank on the morning of the 6th had a very 
material effect upon the result of the battle. I was not 
only cautioned officially that the movement was being 
made, but many incidents narrated in the body of this 
report, such as the skirmishing and artillery firing on 
General Barlow's flank, the heavy firing in the direction 
of Todd's tavern, where Sheridan was to attack Long, 
street, and the report of the infantry moving on the 
Brock road from the direction of Todd's tavern, con- 
firmed me in the belief that I would receive a formidable 
attack on my left. This paralyzed a large number of my 
best troops, who would otherwise have gone into action 
at a decisive point on the morning of the 6th. 

" Had Frank's brigade been supported that morning 
by the remainder of Barlow's division, the result must 
have been very disastrous to the enemy, in his then shat- 
tered condition. 

" From accounts from Confederate sources it is now 
known that our fierce attack along the Orange plank road, 
on the 6th, had broken Hill's corps to pieces, and that 
Longstreet was recalled from the Cartharpen road to re- 
trieve the disaster which had overtaken Hill, while Stuart, 
with his cavalry, was directed to attack our left. 

"I am not aware what movements were made by 
General Burnside near Parker's store on the morning of 


the 6th, but I experienced no relief from the attack I 
was informed he would make across my front a move- 
ment long and anxiously waited for. 

" The late Major-General Birney acquitted himself 
with great honor during the battle. His command made a 
splendid and irresistible advance on the 6th, in which he 
entirely overthrew the enemy in his front. 

"Major-General Gibbon commanded the left of my 
line. The troops of his division were sent to the right 
during the severe fighting along the plank road, on the 
5th and 6th, when they were under the command of Gen- 
eral Birney. 

" Brigadier-General Barlow, commanding First Divis- 
ion, Second Corps, was under the immediate command 
of General Gibbon during the battle on the extreme left 
of my line. He performed important services. His 
division, which had charge of the support of nearly all of 
my artillery, did not go into action as a whole, but each 
of his brigades was engaged at different periods on the 
5th and 6th. 

" Brigadier-General Mott, commanding Fourth Divis- 
ion, Second Corps, was under the command of General 
Birney during the operations of the 5th and 6th. He 
displayed his accustomed personal gallantry on the 

" Brigadier-General Getty, commanding Second Divis- 
ion, Sixth Corps, was under my command on the 5th and 
6th. He was severely wounded while engaged with the 
enemy on the morning of the 6th. Brigadier-General 
"Wheaton succeeded him in command. His troops fought 
with great bravery on both days. 

"Brigadier-General Alexander Hays, that dauntless 
soldier, whose intrepid and chivalric bearing on so many 


battle-fields had won for him the highest renown, was 
killed at the head of his brigade on the 5th. 

" Brigadier-General Wadsworth, whose brilliant exam- 
ple and peerless courage always had such an inspiriting 
effect upon his soldiers, fell while leading them against 
the enemy on the morning of the 6th.* 

"Commanding First Brigade, Gibbon's Division, 
Brigadier-General Alexander Webb ; Colonel (now Briga- 
dier-General) Thomas A. Smythe, commanding the Irish 
Brigade of Barlow's division ; and Colonel (now Briga- 
dier-General) John P. Brooke, commanding Fourth Bri- 
gade of Barlow's division ; are entitled to high praise for 
the manner in which they led their troops into action. 

" Colonel (now Brigadier-General) S. S. Carroll, whose 
services and gallantry were conspicuous throughout the 
battle, received a painful wound on the 5th, but refused 
to retire from the field or to give up his command. He 
particularly distinguished himself, on the afternoon of the 
6th, by the prompt and skillful manner in which he led 
his brigade against the enemy, when he had broken the 
line of Mott's and Birney's troops. 

" Colonel (now Brigadier-General) N. A. Miles, com- 
manding First Brigade of Barlow's division, checked sev- 
eral attempts of the enemy to advance on my left. In 
these encounters General Miles displayed his usual skill 
and courage. 

"Major Henry L. Abbott, Twentieth Massachusetts 

* When General Wadsworth reported to General Hancock, at the junc- 
tion of the Brock and Orange roads on the morning of the 6th, he looked 
worn out physically. He was then an old man, but his gallant heart was 
full of energy and courage. General Hancock placed him in command of 
the troops on the right of the plank road, where his division went into 
action, and he was killed there, on his line of battle, not long after he left 
General Hancock's side. His body fell into the enemy's hands. 


Volunteers, was mortally wounded while leading his reg- 
iment, in the heat of the contest, on the morning of the 
6th. This brilliant young officer, by his courageous con- 
duct in action, the high state of discipline in his regiment, 
his devotion to duty at all times, had obtained the highest 
reputation among his commanding officers. His loss was 
greatly deplored. 

. " Brigadier-General "Webb speaks highly of the con- 
duct of Colonel (now Brigadier-General) Bartlett, of the 
Fifty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, whose regiment 
was associated in action with "Webb's brigade for a short 
time on the 6th." 

The following tabulated statement shows the number 
of casualties occurring in the Second Corps, save those 
of one regiment, the Fourteenth Indiana, which were not 
reported during this great battle : 




















I s 


| r 

1 33 

w rt 

Corps Hdqrs . . . 
Art'y Brigade . . 
1st Division.. . . 










2d Division 







! 49 


3d Division 


















This list shows only the casualties in the Second 
Corps, and does not embrace those of the troops of the 
other corps commanded by General Hancock on the field 
portions of the Fifth, Sixth, and Ninth Corps, and 


heavy artillery. At one time, during the second day's 
battle, he commanded not less than 60,000 men. 

Thus, for two days, this fierce struggle continued be- 
tween these contending hosts, both buried, as it were, 
in the chaparral of the "Wilderness. It was a terrible 
scene, unlike any other battle known to history. There 
was no opportunity for strategy or for the application 
of skill in manoeuvring, for even brigade commanders 
could not gain a full view of their commands ; much less 
could the commanding generals see the armies whose ter- 
rible struggles they ought to have controlled. Even 
spectators of the fight could see little of it, and could only 
judge by the ear, from the cheer of the Federals, or the 
yell of their enemies, and the roar of musketry, where 
the fighting was the fiercest, and, as the sounds advanced 
or receded, to which side the advantage leaned. 

When Saturday, the 7th, dawned upon that unique 
Wilderness battle-field, both armies were weary, bleeding, 
and exhausted. Ten thousand dead and wounded men 
added gloom and horror to that naturally gloomy wilder- 
ness, while other phases of the dread debris of war on 
every hand shocked the eye and sickened the heart. 
Neither commander seemed disposed to assume the 
aggressive, so that, with the exception of a severe but 
indecisive conflict of cavalry forces near Todd's tavern, 
there was no renewal of the battle on the 7th. The bat- 
tle of the Wilderness was a drawn battle ; neither side 
could claim decided advantage, although the Union loss 
was the greater in killed and wounded, especially so in 
the loss of gallant and valuable officers. It had been a 
battle of simple " hammering " ; artillery was of little use ; 
cavalry could scarcely be employed at all, on account of 
the dense woods and underbrush; and the conflict was 


with the musket and the bayonet stern and terrible 
struggle beneath the shades of that mysterious wilder- 
ness, which concealed from one portion of the comba- 
tants what the others were doing. 

It had been General Grant's intention, in crossing the 
Rapidan, to turn Lee's right flank, and get between him 
and Richmond. His purpose was arrested by the battle 
of the Wilderness ; but, so soon as it was over, he resumed 
his purpose, and turned his columns in that direction, 
marching on Spottsylvania Court-House. General Lee, 
of course, aimed to foil the plans of his adversary, and 
marched in the same direction by the roads* nearly par- 
allel with that upon which Grant's army marched the 
Brock road, and a few miles west of it. 

* His chief column marched along the road leading from Parker's store 
to Spottsylvania Court-Housc. 


Spottsylvania Court-house Advance of the Union Arm}' Lee's Movements 
Attack on Warren's Column The Latter retires, and the Soldiers 
sleep on their Arms Hancock's Corps Splendid Morale of the Men 
Death of General Sedgwick Killed by a Sharpshooter General 
Hancock's Official Report of the Battle Desperate Fighting The 
AVoods on Fire Sharp Repulse of the Union Army. 

SPOTTSYLVANIA COUKT-HOUSE, in the vicinity of which 
the battle which bears its name was fought, is some fif- 
teen miles southeast from the central portion of the loca- 
tion of the Battle of the "Wilderness, in the direction of 
Fredericksburg, and is in the same county with the latter 
town. The features of the region around it are of the 
same general character, but the country is more open and 
free from forest and underbrush. Two inconsiderable 
rivers, the Po and the Nye, traverse the district, flow- 
ing in a general southeast course, and at a distance from 
each other varying from six to ten miles. The court- 
house is more than half way from the nearest point on 
the Po to the nearest on the Nye. 

The purpose to march to Spottsylvania was formed 
early on Saturday, the 7th of May ; but the march of the 
column did not begin until after the immense trains had 
been withdrawn from their positions near the battle-field, 
and sent to Chancellorville en route, there to park for the 
night. This motion of the trains let Lee know that his 


enemy was about to withdraw in some direction, but gave 
him no clew to the objective point. 

The order of march placed the Fifth Corps (General 
Warren) in the advance, with instructions to move rap- 
idly and seize Spottsylvania Court-house. Hancock's 
corps was to follow on the same (Brock) road, while Sedg- 
wick and Burnside were to march by an exterior route via 
Chancellorville. But General Lee, having directed An- 
derson, now commanding Longstreet's corps, to march 
out for purposes of observation, that officer started about 
ten o'clock at night, and finding no good place to encamp, 
on account of the woods being on fire, pressed on and 
anticipated "Warren in taking Spottsylvania Court-house. 

Warren marched at 9 P. M. on the 7th, but was delayed 
an hour and a half at Todd's tavern by the cavalry escort 
of General Meade being in the way. Next morning, at 
three o'clock, he was again detained by the cavalry divis- 
ion of General Merritt, which the day before had been 
fighting Stuart ; and, when they at length gave the road, 
Warren's column advanced, and, after indescribable diffi- 
culties in removing barricades, two brigades of Robinson's 
division, that had been deployed in line of battle, entered 
the clearing two miles from the Court-house, and ad- 
vanced over the plain; but, before they had gone far, 
they were met by a murderous fire of musketry from 
the enemy. 

Wearied with the battle of the preceding day, and 
worn out by the hard and sleepless night of marching, 
annoyed, too, as they had been by Stuart's cavalry, it was 
not to be wondered at that the men faltered. They fell 
back to the woods ; their general (Kobinson) was severely 
wounded ; and it was with some difficulty the men were 
rallied and reformed. Griffin's division, which had ad- 


vanced to Robinson's right, was received with a similar 
severe fire, and wavered and fell back. Thus began the 
fierce and protracted battle of Spottsylvania ; and we 
proceed to detail the part borne in that series of terrible 
struggles by General Hancock. 

As already intimated, orders for the movement of the 
Army of the Potomac from the Wilderness had been 
issued on the 7th of May. The army was to move by 
its left flank. In this operation, Hancock's corps (the 
Second) was to follow the Fifth (Warren's). During the 
night of the 7th the troops slept upon their arms, along 
the Brock road, behind the breastworks; and the poor 
fellows had need of better rest. They had been march- 
ing and fighting so long, and with scarcely any oppor- 
tunity of taking food, that they were almost exhausted. 
But the conduct of this corps, under all the trying cir- 
cumstances in which it was placed called, as it was, to 
inarch and fight continuously for twelve successive days 
illustrates the wondrous courage and endurance of the 
American soldier, and also the incalculable value of thor- 
ough organization and drill as elements of prowess in an 
army. One reason why Hancock's men could do and 
endure so much was that he bestowed great attention 
upon the complete preparation of the individual soldier 
for his work, and also upon the thorough organisation of 
his corps, from the platoon to the division, in every move- 
ment, separate and combined, that might render them 
wary and provident in the camp and on the march, and 
effective in the field. Careful of their comfort and their 
health, he won their love and attachment ; and, such was 
their perfect confidence in his great military ability, 
that they would do anything for him that was possible. 
And he was very happy in having subordinate com- 


manders who seconded his efforts for the good of the 
corps and the perfection of its morale. 

About 10 o'clock at night Generals Grant and Meade 
came along the lines to Hancock's headquarters, at the 
intersection of the Brock and the Orange roads, and re- 
mained there until near mornino; of the 8th. 


The Second Corps was to have moved at 10 or 11 
p. M. on the night of the 7th, following Warren's corps ; 
the latter corps occupied the road until daylight, so that 
the head of General Hancock's column did not move 
until after that hour. 

The Second Corps moved to Todd's tavern, arriving 
at that place about 9 o'clock A. M., relieving Gregg's di- 
vision of cavalry there. Barlow's and Mott's divisions 
were placed in position to cover the Brock and Catharpen 
roads, Birney being held in reserve, and preparations 
were made by intrenching the lines to receive the en- 
emy, in case he attempted an advance in that direction. 
It was also necessary to hold strongly the roads centering 
at Todd's tavern, as a protection to the heavy artillery 
and trains following the army in its movements toward 

About 11 A. M. on the 8th Colonel IS". A. Miles, with 
his brigade of Barlow's division, one brigade of Gregg's 
cavalry, and a battery, made a reconnoissance on the 
Catharpen road toward Corbin's bridge. When this 
force had reached a point within a half mile of the 
bridge, the enemy opened upon it with artillery from 
the high ground on the opposite side of the Po River. 
Miles at once formed line, opened upon the enemy with 
his battery, retaining his position until 5.30 p. M., when 
General Hancock sent orders directing him to return to 
Todd's tavern. As Miles's command was put in motion 


in that direction, he was attacked by Mahone's brigade of 
Hill's corps, then on the march to Spottsylvania. As 
soon as the firing between Miles and Mahone was heard 
by General Hancock, he sent a brigade of infantry to 
support our troops, and ordered that others should be 
held in readiness to move to their assistance, if required, 
at the same time directing Miles to retire slowly upon 
our main line. Miles, as usual with him, carried out 
his instructions with spirit and success, repelling hand- 
somely two attacks made by the enemy, and inflicting 
considerable loss on him. 

In the mean time, at 1.30 p. M., General Meade di- 
rected General Hancock to send a division of his corps 
to a point about midway between Todd's tavern and 
Spottsylvania, as a support to the Fifth (Warren's) and 
Sixth (Sedgwick's) corps. General Gibbon's division 
was sent on this service. At 7.50 p. M. Burton's brigade 
of heavy artillery reported for duty to General Hancock, 
by order of General Meade. It was massed in rear of 
the line of battle of the Second Corps, and was with- 
drawn from that position later in the evening by order 
from army headquarters. 

On the morning of the 9th there were some indica- 
tions of an advance by the enemy on our lines ; but no 
fighting occurred, save that the Confederate sharpshooters 
were very active, and early in the day their deadly aim 
brought down a distinguished victim, in the person of 
General Sedgwick, the brave and beloved commander 
of the Sixth Corps. He was shot in the face while rally- 
ing some of his men for wincing at the zip-zipping of 
the enemy's bullets, and died instantly. This was a great 
loss to the Union army. He was a model soldier, of 
great skill, and of lion-hearted courage. He was sorely 


lamented by his brother officers and by the whole army. 
He was a native of Connecticut. 

At noon Birney and Barlow moved their divisions to 
a point which connected them with Gibbon on the high 
clear ground overlooking the Po, between Todd's tavern 
and Spottsylvania Court-house, Mott remaining to hold 
the roads centering at Todd's tavern. Burton's brigade 
of heavy artillery, which had again been sent to report to 
General Hancock, was also stationed there. 

During the afternoon the enemy's wagon train was 
observed from our line of battle (the line of Birney's, 
Gibbon's, and Barlow's divisions) on the opposite side of 
the Po, on the Block House road, moving toward Spott- 
sylvania. Our batteries shelled it sharply, and forced it 
to take another road. 

The river (Po) was examined with a view of crossing 
it, and at 6 p. M., in pursuance of orders from General 
Meade, Birney's, Barlow's, and Gibbon's divisions were 
directed to force the passage. 

Brooke's brigade of Barlow's division had the advance 
in this movement. The south side of the stream was 
held by the enemy with only a small force of cavalry 
and a section of artillery, but the crossing was extremely 
difficult, owing to the depth of the water and the dense 
undergrowth on the banks of the river. 

Brooke pushed forward rapidly, driving the enemy 
back, and seizing the cross roads between Glady Run and 
the Po. Birney crossed the river higher up, where he 
was stoutly resisted. Gibbon crossed below Barlow, and 
met with no opposition. The troops were now thrown 
rapidly forward along the Block House road in the direc- 
tion of the wooden bridge over the Po ; but night came 
on before they could reach that point. 


General Hancock was anxious to have seized this 
bridge and recrossed the river before ordering a halt, but 
the skirmishers could not be kept moving through the 
thick wood in the darkness, although a portion of them 
reached the river, which was ascertained to be too deep 
for fording at that point. He was therefore compelled 
to suspend movements until the following morning. 

During the afternoon of the 9th, Mott's division was 
withdrawn from Todd's tavern (by order of General 
Meade), and moved to a position in front of Spottsyl- 
vania, on the left of Wright's (Sixth Corps). 

On the evening of the 9th, General Hancock directed 
three bridges to be thrown over the stream : one at the 
point at which Brooke had crossed, one (a pontoon) where 
Gibbon had passed over, and a third a short distance 

At daybreak on the morning of the 10th, a close recon- 
iioissance was made of the wooden bridge across the Po, 
on the Block House road, with the intention of forcing a 
passage over it, if it should be practicable to do so. The 
reconnoissance discovered the enemy in force on the op- 
posite side, in earthworks which covered the bridge and 
its approaches. After a careful survey of the position 
had been made, General Hancock concluded not to at- 
tempt to carry the bridge by assault, but ordered Brooke's 
brigade of Barlow's division to a point higher up the 
stream (where a reconnoissance had been made by Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Morgan, General Hancock's Chief of 
Staff), to ascertain if a crossing could be effected there. 
To cover Brooke's movement, three or four regiments of 
Birney's division were sent out on the Andrews's tavern 

Brooke soon forced a crossing, after a sharp contest, 


at a point about one mile above the wooden bridge, and 
discovered the enemy's intrenched line occupied by in- 
fantry and artillery, running parallel to and a short dis- 
tance from the stream. Colonel Hamill, Sixty-sixth ]STew 
York Volunteers, distinguished himself in this affair. 

"While these movements were in progress, General 
Meade informed General Hancock that he designed as- 
saulting the enemy's works on Laurel Hill, in front of 
General Warren's (Fifth Corps) position, near Alsop's 
house. General Hancock was instructed to move two of 
his divisions to the left, to take part in the assault, and to 
assume command of the troops which were to participate 
in it. 

Gibbon's and Birney's divisions were at once moved 
to the north bank of the stream, and massed in rear of 
Warren's corps, leaving Barlow to hold the ground on 
the south side of the Po. General Hancock accompanied 
the two former divisions, and proceeded to reconnoitre 
the ground on which the attack was to be made. 

"While Birney was withdrawing from the south side 
of the river, the regiments which he had ordered out 
some distance to the front, toward Andrews's tavern, to 
cover Brooke's movements, were attacked near Glady 
Run and driven in, and, as they retired, the skirmishers 
of Barlow's division became sharply engaged in turn, and 
it now became evident that the enemy was advancing in 
force upon Barlow's position. 

We now quote as follows from General Hancock's 
official report, describing what followed : 

" The Major-General commanding [Meade], having re- 
ceived this information, and not desiring to bring on a 
battle on the south side of the Po, directed me to with- 


draw Barlow's division to the north bank of the river at 
once, and to give my personal supervision to the move- 

" I immediately joined General Barlow, and instructed 
him to prepare his command to recross the river, on the 
bridges we had laid in the morning. The enemy was 
then driving in his skirmishers. The withdrawal of Bar- 
low's troops commenced about 2 P. M. Two of his bri- 
gades Brooke's and Brown's occupied an advanced 
position in front of the Block House road, between it 
and the Po. Miles's and Smythe's brigades were formed 
along that road ; the left resting on a sharp crest, within 
a few hundred paces of the wooden bridge. In rear of 
this line, a broad, open plain extended to the point where 
our pontoon bridge was thrown across the river. Gen- 
eral Barlow, anticipating an advance of the enemy, had 
constructed a line of breastworks parallel to the Block 
House road, a short distance in front of it, and had made 
other necessary dispositions to receive him. 

" When I directed General Barlow to commence re- 
tiring his command, he recalled Brooke's and Brown's 
brigades, and formed them on the right of Miles's and 
Smythe's brigades, on a wooded crest, in rear of the 
Block House road, about one hundred paces in rear of 
the line of breastworks. As soon as Brooke's and Brown's 
brigades had occupied this position, Miles and S my the 
were ordered to retire to the crest in front of our bridges 
on the south bank of the Po. Here they formed line of 
battle, throwing up hastily a light line of breastworks, of 
rails and such other materials as they could collect on the 
ground. In a few minutes they were prepared to resist 
the enemy, should he overpower Brooke and Brown, and 
attempt to carry the bridges. I directed that all the bat- 


terics on the south, side of the river, save Arnold's A, 
First Rhode Island Battery, should cross to the north 
bank, and take position commanding the bridges. These 
dispositions had scarcely been completed, when the enemy, 
having driven in the skirmishers of Brooke's and Brown's 
brigades, pressed forward and occupied the breastworks 
in front of them ; then, advancing in line of battle sup- 
ported by columns, they attacked with great vigor and 
determination, but were met by a heavy and destructive 
fire, which compelled them to fall back at once in con- 
fusion, with severe losses in killed and wounded. En- 
couraged, doubtless, by the withdrawal of Miles's and 
Smythe's brigades from our front line, which it is sup- 
posed they mistook for a forced retreat, they reformed 
their troops, and again assaulted Brooke's and Brown's 
brigades. The combat now became close and bloody. The 
enemy, in vastly superior numbers, flushed with the an- 
ticipation of an easy victory, appeared to be determined 
to crush the small force opposing them, and, pressing for- 
ward with loud yells, forced their way close up to our 
lines, delivering a terrible musketry fire as they advanced. 
Our brave troops again resisted their onset with undaunted 
resolution ; their fire along the whole line was so con- 
tinuous and deadly that the enemy found it impossible to 
withstand it, but broke again and retreated in the wildest 
disorder, leaving the ground in our front strewed with 
their dead and wounded. During the heat of this con- 
test the woods on the right and rear of our troops took 
fire ; the flames had now approached close to oar line, 
rendering it almost impossible to retain the position 

" The last bloody repulse of the enemy had quieted 
them for a time, and, during this lull in the fight, General 


Barlow directed Brooke and Brown to abandon their 
positions, and retire to the north bank of the Po their 
right and rear being enveloped in the burning wood, their 
front assailed by overwhelming numbers of the enemy. 
This withdrawal of the troops was attended with extreme 
difficulty and peril ; but the movement was commenced at 
once, the men displaying such coolness and steadiness as 
is rarely exhibited in the presence of dangers so appalling. 
It seemed, indeed, that these gallant soldiers were de- 
voted to destruction. The enemy, perceiving that our 
line was retiring, again advanced, but was again promptly 
checked by our troops, who fell back through the burning 
forest with admirable order and deliberation, though, in 
doing so, many of them were killed and wounded 
numbers of the latter perishing in the flames. One 
section of Arnold's battery had been pushed forward by 
Captain Arnold during the fight, to within a short distance 
of Brooke's line, where it had done effective service. 
When ordered to retire, the horses attached to one of the 
pieces, becoming terrified by the fire, and unmanageable, 
dragged the gun between two trees, where it became so 
firmly wedged that it could not be moved. Every ex- 
ertion was made by Captain Arnold and some of the 
infantry to extricate the gun, but without success. They 
were compelled to abandon it. This was the first gun 
ever lost ty the Second Corps. 

" Brooke's brigade, after emerging from the wood, 
had the open plain to traverse between the Block House 
road and the Po. This plain was swept by the enemy's 
musketry in front, and by their artillery on the heights 
above the Block House bridge, on the north side of the 

" Brown's brigade, in retiring, was compelled to pass 


through the entire wood in its rear, which was then burn- 
ing furiously, and, although under a heavy fire, it extri- 
cated itself from the forest, losing very heavily in killed 
and wounded. Colonel Brown crossed the river some 
distance above the pontoon bridge, forming his troops on 
the right of Brooke, who had also crossed to the north 
bank on the pontoon bridge. I feel that I can not speak 
too highly of the bravery, soldierly conduct, and disci- 
pline displayed by Brooke's and Brown's brigades on this 
occasion. Attacked by an entire division of the enemy 
(Heth's), they repeatedly beat him back, holding their 
ground with unyielding courage until they were ordered 
to withdraw, when they retired with such order and 
steadiness as to merit the highest praise. Colonel James 
A. Beaver, One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania 
Volunteers, and Lieutenant-Colonel D. L. Stryker, Sec- 
ond Delaware Volunteers, are particularly mentioned by 
Colonel Brooke for marked services and conspicuous 
courage. The enemy regarded this as a considerable 
victory, and General Heth published a congratulatory 
order to his troops, endorsed by General Hill and General 
Lee, praising them for their valor in driving us from 
our intrenched lines. Had not Barlow's fine division, 
then in full strength, received imperative orders to 
withdraw, Heth's division would have had no cause for 
congratulation. There were no more than two brigades 
of Barlow's division engaged at any one time. When 
General Barlow commenced withdrawing his troops, I had 
directed General Birney to move his division to the right, 
and occupy the heights on the north bank of the Po 
commanding our bridges, in order to cover Barlow's 
crossing. The artillery, under command of Colonel J. 
C. Tidball, Commander of Artillery, Second Corps, was 


placed in position for the same purpose. As soon as 
Brooke's and Brown's brigades had crossed the Po, Gen- 
eral Barlow directed Colonel Smythe, commanding Sec- 
ond Brigade, to march his command across the pontoon 
bridge, and take position immediately on the north side, 
where his fire would sweep the bridges, in case the enemy 
designed forcing a passage. Miles's brigade was thus left 
to cross last, and to tear up the bridges at that point. 

" I had sent a detachment to destroy the upper bridge 
when the withdrawal was determined upon. The enemy, 
now seeing a few regiments remaining on the south bank, 
attempted to cross the open plain in their front, but were 
at once driven back by General Miles's troops and our 
artillery on the heights. A furious artillery fire was also 
opened by the enemy's batteries on the heights above the 
wooden bridge over the Po. Our batteries replied with 
a well-directed fire, which speedily silenced them, explod- 
ing one of their caissons, and forcing them to withdraw 
their guns. Miles's brigade now crossed to the north 
bank, taking up the pontoon bridge, and thoroughly de- 
stroying the other. The enemy made no attempt to cross 
the stream." 

General Hancock now directed Birney to return with 
his division to Warren's right, to take part in the contem- 
plated assault on Laurel Hill, Barlow's division remain- 
ing on Birney's right, in the position it had taken when 
it had crossed the river. 

General Hancock was not able to return to Warren's 
front until 5.30 p. M., and then found an assault in prog- 
ress against the enemy's works by the Fifth Corps (War- 
ren's) and Gibbon's division of the Second Corps. This 
assault was made by General Warren in accordance with 


orders he had received from General Meade, General 
"Warren having reported the circumstances then favorable, 
during General Hancock's absence on the south side of 
the Po supervising the withdrawal of Barlow's division. 

The position held by the enemy was the crest of a 
densely wooded hill, crowned with earthworks, his front 
being swept by the fire of his artillery and infantry. 
The approach to the position was obstructed by a dense 
growth of low cedars, forming, with their sharp, inter- 
lacing branches, a natural abatis. The troops made a 
gallant struggle for a time, and even entered the works 
at one or two points, but were driven out, and finally 
wavered and fell back. Gibbon's loss was quite heavy 
in this assault. A few moments after it was known that 
this assault had failed, General Hancock received orders 
from General Meade directing him to make another at- 
tack at the same point at 6.30 p. M. Preparations for this 
advance had just been completed, when General Hancock 
was ordered to defer the movement, in case the troops 
were not already in motion, and to send a heavy force to 
the right of Barlow's division to check a column of the 
enemy reported to have passed the Po, and to be moving 
against our right flank. 

Instructions for the execution of this order were 
scarcely given by General Hancock when it was counter- 
manded by General Meade, and he was directed to pro- 
ceed with the attack on the enemy's position in his front 
at Laurel Hill, as previously directed. The assault was 
then made under General Hancock's orders by the Fifth 
Corps and portions of Gibbon's and Birney's divisions of 
the Second Corps. 

The troops encountered the same obstructions which 
had forced them back when they had assailed this point 


under General Warren's orders at 5 p. M., and they were 
again compelled to retire with considerable loss. A good 
deal of confusion prevailed in "Ward's brigade of Birney's 
division. The heavy firing did not cease until near 8 
p. M. Mott's division (Second Corps), then in position on 
the left of the Sixth Corps (some distance to the left of 
the point of assault at Laurel Hill and to the left of the 
Fifth Corps), also participated in the general attack at 
5 p. M. 

During the operations of the 10th, in front of Laurel 
Hill, the gallant and esteemed Medical Director of the 
Second Corps, Surgeon A. M. Dougherty, was struck by 
a piece of a shell which burst among the staff of General 
Hancock. The same shell passed through the corps 
flag, which always accompanied the General on the field, 
and tore it almost to shreds. 


Spottsylvania Court-house The Second Corps ordered to attack A Night 
March Forming the Line of Battle The Attack on the Enemy's Pick- 
ets Charging the Intrenchments The Irish Brigade The Entire 
Enemy's Line carried by Assault Splendid Victory Rebel Losses 
Anecdote of the Capture of the Rebel General George Stuart The 
Enemy reenforced Their Desperate Efforts to recapture their Line 
General Egan " holding the Fort." 

THE Second Corps had no serious fighting on the 
llth. At 4 p. M. of that day General Hancock received 
the following order from army headquarters : 


" GENERAL : You will move as soon after dark as it 
can be done, without attracting the enemy's attention, the 
divisions of Birney and Barlow, with which, and Mott's 
division, you will assault the enemy's line from the left 
of the position now occupied by General Wright, and 
between him and General Burnside. The position occu- 
pied by General Mott, or the left of it, near Hicks's house, 
would be a suitable point. This assault should be made 
at 4 p. M., as promptly as possible. There are two roads 
by which you can move. Gibbon's division can not be 
moved without giving notice to the enemy. He will be 
moved before daylight, and, if he can possibly be spared, 
he will be sent to you. 

(Signed) "GEORGE G. MEADE, Major- General. 
" MAJOR-GENERAL HANCOCK, Commanding Second Oorps." 


It will be admitted that, considering the late hour at 
which the order was received, and the consequent impos- 
sibility of making the necessary examination of the posi- 
tion to be assailed, there was little hope for such brilliant 
success as followed. On the application of General Han- 
cock to army headquarters, to have the ground pointed 
out to him, so that he could determine his route of march 
accurately, Colonel Comstock was sent to designate the 
point at which the assault was to be made. Arriving at 
General Hancock's headquarters, that officer, accompa- 
nied by three of General Hancock's staff, set out to de- 
cide upon the exact point at which the enemy's lines 
should be assaile'd. Unfortunately Colonel Comstock 
missed his way, and, after riding many miles, the party 
found themselves on General Burnside's lines (Ninth 
Corps), beyond the point of intended assault. Colonel 
Comstock took a survey of the angle (the one which 
General Hancock carried the next morning) from the 
hill opposite the Lendrum house, but gave no indication 
that it was to be the point of attack. It was nearly dark 
before the party arrived at the "brown house." Here 
General Mott was found, but, as before stated, could tell 
but little about the ground. An attempt made by him 
that day to drive in the enemy's pickets, for the pur- 
pose of gaining some information, had partly failed, 
and nothing remained to be done but to add to the 
little learned from him, and his field officer of the day, 
by inspecting so much of the ground as was held by our 

It was barely possible, before night set in, to se- 
lect the line for the formation of the corps, and, it 
being too dark to see more, the officers of General Han- 
cock's staff returned to him as rapidly as their horses 


could carry them, to report the information gained by 

At 10 P. M. Birney's and Barlow's divisions were put 
in motion, guided by Major Mendell, of the Engineers. 
The night was pitchy dark, the road narrow and bad, and 
the rain falling heavily. The march, under these circum- 
stances, was made with great difficulty. The column 
moved very close to the enemy's line, and was in constant 
danger of a collision. The men were worn out from con- 
stant fighting and marching (they had been under fire 
every day since the 5th of May), and almost slept on their 
feet, as they dragged along at the slow pace such a column 
is obliged to maintain under such circumstances. 

At one point, where the command was closing up on 
the head of the column, a runaway pack-mule, bursting 
suddenly through the sleepy ranks of these nervous and 
worn-out men in the darkness, seemed to threaten a 
general stampede, and, at another, the accidental discharge 
of a musket startled the column into the temporary be- 
lief that the corps had come in contact with the enemy's 

About midnight, the head of the column arrived at 
the " brown house " (in front of the point to be attacked), 
near which it was proposed to form the troops. Passing 

* Before General Hancock moved to Spottsylvania on the llth, he 
asked General Meade if he had any accurate information concerning the 
enemy's position, to which General Meade replied " No," and that he only 
understood that a certain house, designated on the map as the "white 
house " (pointing it out to General Hancock) was inside of the enemy's 
lines. When General Hancock arrived at the " brown house," he drew a 
line on the map between the latter and the " white house," then drew a per- 
pendicular to that line, determined its bearing by the compass, and on 
that line established the troops. Fortunately, the " white house " stood just 
where General Meade understood it to be, and the troops struck the " sa- 
lient " when they advanced. 


as quietly as possible over a slight line of rifle-pits, which 
had been thrown up there by General Mott's command, 
our troops moved close up to our picket line (about twelve 
hundred yards distant from the enemy's intrenchments), 
where our formation for the attack was made. Gibbon's 
division in the mean time came up and joined Mott at 
the "brown house," so that General Hancock had his 
whole corps for the work before him. Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel Merriam, Sixteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, field 
officer of the day of Mott's division, having some knowl- 
edge of the ground, rendered invaluable assistance to Gen- 
eral Hancock in the formation of the troops. He fell, 
mortally wounded, the next morning, greatly regretted. 
Lieutenant - Colonel Willian and Captain Thompson of 
General Mott's staff also gave assistance ; but the princi- 
pal labor of the formation fell upon General Hancock 
and the three officers of his staff (Colonel C. H. Morgan, 
Chief of Staff, Second Corps, and Captains Mitchell 
and Wilson, Aides-de-camp) who had reconnoitered the 
ground the previous evening with Colonel Comstock, of 
General Grant's staff. Between our lines and the enemy's 
works the ground ascended sharply, and was thickly 
wooded, with the exception of a cleared space about four 
hundred yards wide, extending to the enemy's position, 
in front of the Lendrum house, and curving to the right 
toward the salient of his works. A small rivulet ran 
parallel to and just in front of our line. 

The formation for the assault was as follows : Barlow's 
division in two lines of battalions in mass (across the clear 
space before mentioned), Brooke's and Miles's brigades 
in front, Brown's and Smythe's brigades in the second 
line, each regiment doubled on the center, with very 
close intervals. 


Birney formed on Barlow's right in two deployed lines. 
In his front was marshy ground (the small rivulet men- 
tioned above), and a dense wood of low pines. Mott 
formed in rear of Birney, and Gibbon in reserve. 

It was almost daylight when General Hancock had 
completed these preparations. A heavy fog delayed the 
advance until half past four, when the word was given. 
At this moment General Birney rode up to General Han- 
cock, and said his men could not pass the swamp and 
small stream directly in front. " General, you must pass 
it" said General Hancock. Birney passed the obstacle, 
and pushed forward, keeping up well with Barlow, who 
was now pressing up the slope in quick time, but without 
firing a shot, marching over the enemy's pickets, who 
stood in silent wonder and bewilderment as they were 
enveloped in this solid mass of twenty thousand men who 
suddenly came upon them through the dense fog. 

From the high ground surrounding the Lendrum 
house the enemy's picket reserve opened a galling fire 
upon Barlow's flank, mortally wounding, among others, 
Lieutenant-Colonel D. L. Stryker, Second Delaware Vol- 
unteers, who had highly distinguished himself on the 

Our heavy column moved on regardless of this annoy- 
ance, but General Hancock, having brought up General 
Carroll's brigade, Second Division, to cover Barlow's right 
flank, that officer (Carroll) promptly attacked the picket 
reserve of the enemy at the Lendrum house, which re- 
sisted stoutly, and received pretty rough treatment from 
Carroll's men for having fired into the rear of our col- 
umn long after it had broken through their picket line 
and passed their position. 

As soon as the curve in the clearing permitted Bar- 


low's men to see the red earth of the enemy's intrench- 
ments at the salient, the mercurial temperament of the 
gallant Irish Brigade of that division no longer allowed 
them to be silent; they gave a ringing cheer, and the 
whole division, spontaneously taking the " double quick," 
rushed at the formidable works under a scorching fire 
from the enemy's musketry and artillery, which opened 
along his whole line. Nothing now could check our col- 
umn. Tearing away the abatis with their hands, the 
men sprang over the breastworks, bayoneting or beat- 
ing to the earth with clubbed muskets the desperate 
resisting enemy. Birney entered the salient about the 
same time with Barlow, and in a few moments we had 
possession of nearly a mile of line, upward of 4,000 
prisoners of Johnson's division of Swell's corps, twenty 
pieces of artillery, with horses, caissons, and material 
complete, several thousand stand of small arms, and more 
than thirty battle flags. Among our prisoners were 
Major-General Edward Johnson and Brigadier-General 
George Stuart.* 

The celebrated "Stonewall" brigade was taken al- 
most entire. The enemy retreated in great disorder and 
confusion. The interior of the intrenchments was filled 

* The story of the meeting of General Hancock and General George 
Stuart has been told in various ways. What actually happened was, that 
General Hancock supposed from his action that General Stuart was about 
to offer his hand, and accordingly extended his, designing at the same time 
to comfort him somewhat in his painful situation by giving him news of 
his wife, whom General Hancock had met a few days before in Wash 
ington. He had known her from childhood, and had attended their wed- 
ding. But General Stuart refused to take his outstretched hand, where- 
upon General Hancock said : " General, if you did not design to take my 
hand, you should not have acted as though you did. Such an affront 
should not be put upon me before my officers and soldiers. Had I not mis- 
interpreted your action, I would not have offered you my hand." 


with dead, most of whom were killed by our men with 
the bayonet when they rushed into the works ; their bodies, 
at many points in the salient, were piled one upon an- 

Our troops could not be held in hand after the cap- 
ture of the intrenchments, but pursued the enemy 
through the wood in the direction of Spottsylvania, until 
they encountered a new line of works and heavy ree'n- 
forcements of infantry, which were now coming with all 
speed to aid Johnson, the rebel commander, that officer 
having applied for them during the night before, under 
the belief that he would be assailed on the morning of 
the 12th, having heard the march of the column as it 
came on the ground.* 

They were too late to save him, however ; but they 
compelled our troops to retire to the captured line of 
works on the right and left of the salient, which, in the 
mean time, General Hancock had occupied by his reserves. 
This was effected not a moment too soon, for the enemy 
were prompt to attempt to retrieve their misfortunes, and 
pushed heavy reinforcements into the gap. General 
Hancock, however, firmly held the captured line. About 
6 A. M. the head of Wright's Sixth Corps came on the 
field, and took position to the right of the salient. Gen- 
eral Hancock had previously sent for troops to put in on 
his right to check the enemy, who were pressing forward 
there, and seemed likely to pass to his rear, between him 
and the Fifth Corps. Mott now joined the Sixth Corps 

* It is well to say here that General Johnson was not " surprised " by 
us on the morning of the 12th. He has since stated to General Hancock that 
he was looking for our attack, and had called his men up earlier than usual 
to be ready for us. They had been dismissed from the ranks, and were 
cooking breakfast when our advance was made. 


at the salient, on "Wright's left ; Birney joined Mott ; and 
then came Gibbon and Barlow in succession. 

Simultaneously with the arrival of the Sixth Corps 
the enemy renewed his vehement efforts to recapture his 
line, pressing his line of battle up to the very breastworks, 
and planting his colors on the side opposite ours, only 
separated by the parapet, the two lines firing into each 
other's faces for hours. So fierce was this cross-fire that 
the forest was mown down like grass, and trees fourteen 
inches in diameter were hewn to the ground by Minie 
balls. The enemy never exhibited greater bravery or 
resolution. At . 8 p. M. they pressed Wright so fiercely 
that he called urgently on General Hancock for aid, and 
Brooke's brigade of Barlow's division was sent to him, 
although it had taken a foremost part in the assault of 
the morning, had suffered most seriously during the sev- 
eral hours it had already been engaged, and had been 
withdrawn from the line of battle temporarily to replen- 
ish its ammunition. It was, however, the only brigade 
available at that moment. 

It relieved a portion of Wheaton's command on 
Wright's front line, where it was called upon to stand the 
brunt of the fight, until its ammunition was again ex- 

After some hours it was returned to General Han- 
cock, but fearfully reduced in numbers. 

One section of Brown's battery was placed in the line 
on the left of the salient, and was able to hold its posi- 
tion there, where it did good service ; but a section of 
Gillis's battery, Fifth United States Artillery, which was 
pushed up to the line at the salient (where it fired can- 
ister into the enemy's ranks), was speedily disabled, and 
lost so heavily in horses and men that it was soon with- 


drawn. Artillery was also placed on the knoll to the 
right and front of the Lendrum house, about three hun- 
dred yards from the salient, where they fired constantly 
over our troops into the enemy's lines. Between this 
point and the works was another knoll, which soon came 
to be known as " dangerous ground " the enemy's bul- 
lets which cleared the parapet sweeping it clean. It was 
then that Major Bingham, while riding with General Han- 
cock, took a fancy to dismount and tighten his saddle- 
girth, but was unable to finish the operation by reason of 
a Minie ball passing through his leg. Near the same 
spot, earlier in the morning, while Major Mitchell was 
pointing out to General Wright the position for the 
troops of the Sixth Corps, the latter was struck by a 
piece of shell and hurled several feet, fortunately with 
no worse injury than a severe contusion. 

Early in the morning (about the time that General 
Hancock's troops carried the works at the salient) Burn- 
side's corps (the Ninth), which was in position some dis- 
tance to Hancock's left, made a slight demonstration ; but 
as it made no impression on the enemy, and gave no re- 
lief or assistance to Hancock, we make no further men- 
tion of it. 

During the afternoon Cutler's and Griffin's divisions 
of the Fifth Corps came on the field. 

The enemy continued his desperate efforts to regain 
his lost works, and the battle raged incessantly along the 
whole line, from the right of the Sixth Corps to Barlow's 
left, throughout the day and until midnight of the 12th, 
when his firing ceased, and his troops were withdrawn 
from Hancock's front.* 

* General Hancock placed Brigadier-General Thomas W. Egan in com- 
mand at the salient during the night, with instructions to hold it against all 


A cold, drenching rain fell during the battle, in which 
the troops were under a deadly musketry fire for nearly 
twenty hours. When the firing ceased, about midnight, 
the exhausted men lay down in the mud in the in- 
trenchments, and slept among thousands of the dead and 

Our losses in killed and wounded were, of course, 
heavy in such a day's work as this, but we had given the 
enemy a stunning blow, and had defeated him most sig- 
nally. His losses during the day, in killed and wounded 
and prisoners, could not have been less than ten thousand 
men, and were probably much greater. 

General Hancock had fixed his headquarters for the 
day at the Lendrum house, a point much exposed to the 
enemy's fire. During the morning, while Generals 
Wright, Hancock, and Gibbon were sitting in the yard 
near the house, their heads inclined toward each other, 
in earnest conversation, a Minie ball passed between the 
three heads, without hitting either, and buried itself 
with a spiteful " spud " in the side of the house. 

Here may properly be related an incident which natu- 
rally possessed great interest to the Confederates, and 
which is one among the many vivid occurrences which 
made the history of this fierce encounter. The story- 
was told at a reunion of the Army of Northern Virginia, 
which took place in Richmond, Virginia, in the winter of 
1877, and is given as related by Colonel James H. Skin- 
ner, of the Confederate Army, an eye-witness : 

" Our infantry not only encountered with cheerful- 
ness all the trials and hardships of the camp and of the 
march, but in the fierce encounters of battle displayed a 

attempts from the enemy. He could not have selected one from his whole 
command who could have held it more stoutly and gallantly. 


proud self-reliance to which the annals of other wars and 
other armies can scarce furnish a parallel. Let" one nota- 
ble instance, out of many, suffice for illustration. It was 
on the memorable morning of the 12th of May, 1864, in 
the battle of Spottsylvania Court-house. In the early 
dawn our army had suffered a fearful disaster. An as- 
sault by Hancock's corps had broken our lines and swal- 
lowed up almost a division, including the larger part of 
the famous Stonewall brigade. Early 's division was 
forthwith summoned to retrieve, if possible, our loss, and 
to reestablish our lines, through the gap in which the en- 
emy were pouring. It was an appalling crisis in our af- 
fairs, which called for the presence and direction of our 
noble Commander-in-Chief . He placed himself in front 
of the division, as though intending to lead the charge in 
person. Traces of anxiety could be read, or at least fan- 
cied, on even his uniformly calm and imperturbable brow. 
Our own tried and trusted chief of division was that day 
commanding a corps, but the mantle of an Early could 
not have fallen on worthier shoulders than those of the 
heroic John B. Gordon. The line, divining General 
Lee's purpose, insisted that he should abandon it ; each 
heart felt that in his life the fortunes of the Confederacy 
were, under God, bound up. This brave division, though 
it would have gloried to distinguish itself under the im- 
mediate leadership of its Commander-in-Chief, was un- 
willing to do so at the necessary hazard of his invaluable 
life. They knew that, led by Gordon as they frequent- 
ly had done under Early they could and would accom- 
plish all that lay in the power of men, and, therefore, 
from the ranks the cry arose, ' General Lee to the rear ! ' 
This is the incident to which General Lee himself reluc- 
tantly referred, and locates in the battles around Spottsyl- 


vania Court-house. He yielded to the demand of his 
men, who had, no doubt, by this time, inspired him with 
the fullest confidence, and by the hand of General Gor- 
don his horse was led through an opening made in Cap- 
tain James Bumgardner's company, the color company 
of the Fifty-second Virginia infantry, the regiment which 
your speaker had the honor to command. General Gor- 
don immediately thereafter gave to the division the order 
to charge, and with a wild yell it sprang forward." 


Spottsylvania Court-house Second Line of Intrenchments Gallantry of 
Colonel Carroll The Fighting renewed on the 18th Ewell retreat- 
ing General Hancock's Report Losses of the Second Corps during 
the Campaign General Hancock commends his Subordinate Officers 

AT daylight on the 13th it was found that the enemy 
had withdrawn to his second line of intrenchments, about 
half a mile in the rear of those we had captured. As 
soon as this was reported to General Meade, he directed 
General Hancock to throw forward a reconnoitring force, 
to ascertain the strength and exact position of the enemy, 
if practicable. General Hancock instructed General Gib- 
bon to make the advance from his point. He selected 
Owen's brigade for the service. It is sometimes danger- 
ous to have a high reputation for skill and bravery, and 
Colonel Carroll found it so on this occasion ; for, General 
Owen not being in command at the time, General Gib- 
bon resolved to send Carroll out on the reconnoissance in 
command of his brigade. 

It so happened that, when Gibbon met Carroll and told 
him what he proposed to do, the latter was on his way 
to the hospital. The wound he had received in the "Wil- 
derness had become very painful and offensive for lack 
of proper care, and the exhausting labor of the past week 
had so reduced him that the surgeon insisted on his 


spending a few days in the field hospital. Too proud 
and high-spirited to tell his division commander on what 
errand he was sent, Carroll turned back and moved out 
with Owen's brigade, his own in support. In the sharp 
encounter with the enemy which followed, a break oc- 
curred in the line, and Carroll rushed to the spot to re- 
store order, and had his unhurt arm terribly shattered at 
the elbow by a Minie ball. The lines were very close, 
and Carroll clearly saw the man who shot him, and had 
a moment to wonder where he should be hit. This was 
the last occasion when Colonel Carroll met the enemy. 
His severe wounds entirely disabled him for many 
months, though he recovered sufficiently to command a 
division in the Veteran Corps, which General Hancock 
was organizing when the war closed. ~No army ever con- 
tained a more intrepid soldier. 

May 13th and 14th passed without serious fighting. 

May 15th, in accordance with orders from General 
Meade, Barlow's and Gibbon's divisions were withdrawn 
from the line of works captured on the 12th, and marched 
to a position near the Fredericksburg and Spottsylvania 
road. Birney remained in the works to cover the right 
of Burnside's corps. 

On the 17th Brigadier General K. O. Tyler's division 
of heavy artillery and the " Corcoran Legion " (infan- 
try) joined the Second Corps, a reinforcement of about 
eight thousand men.* 

The same day 17th General Hancock received or- 
ders from army headquarters to move back to the works 

* The material of these regiments was excellent, and they were well-dis- 
ciplined and completely equipped ; but they were not inured to war like the 
veterans they had come to replace. The " Corcoran Legion " was assigned 
to Gibbon's division. 


he had captured on the 12th, and to assault the enemy at 
daylight on the 18th in the intrenched line occupied in 
front of that position. The Sixth Corps was to form on 
his right, and attack at the same hour. 

At dark on the 17th General Hancock's troops were 
in motion, and were in the position designated for the 
attack before daylight the next morning. At 11 A. M. 
Gibbon and Barlow moved to the attack, their troops 
formed in lines of brigades. Our artillery, which was 
posted on the works captured on the 12th, fired over the 
heads of the troops. Birney's and Tyler's divisions were 
held in reserve. 

The enemy was posted in a strongly intrenched line, 
screened by a forest, about one half mile in front of and 
parallel to the works taken on the 12th. His position 
was strengthened by heavy slashings and abatis. As 
our troops neared this line, they were received by a hot 
fire of musketry and artillery, which made great slaughter 
in our ranks. They pushed on, however, until they 
reached the edge of the abatis, which, with the galling 
fire, stopped their progress. They made many gallant 
attempts to penetrate the enemy's position, but without 

Finding that he was losing quite seriously, and that 
the enemy's works were too strong to be carried by his 
force, General Hancock informed General Meade of the 
condition of affairs, and was at once instructed by him to 
withdraw from the assault. This was accomplished, the 
enemy making no attempt to leave his works and attack 
us, and our troops again occupied the lines in front of the 
Lendrum house. The " Corcoran Legion," which, as be- 
fore stated, joined the Second Corps on the 17th, was 
specially marked for good conduct. It lost seventy in 


killed and wounded. General "Wright attacked at the 
same time, but without success.* 

During the night of the 18th, Barlow's, Birney's, and 
Gibbon's divisions marched to a point near Anderson's 
mill, on the Nje River, Tyler's division remaining in 
position on the Fredericksburg and Spottsylvania road, 
near the Harris house. 

May 19th, General Hancock received instructions 
from General Meade, directing him to prepare to move 
toward Bowling Green, on the Richmond and Potomac 

At 5 P. M., while preparations for this march were 
in progress, heavy musketry firing was heard in the di- 
rection of Tyler's division. It was soon found that 
Ewell's corps of the enemy had passed the !N"ye in front 
of Tyler, and was making a determined attack upon 
him. Birney was at once hurried to his support, and 
Gibbon and Barlow were put in readiness to move up 
to sustain him, if required. General Hancock at once 
rode to the fight, and found Tyler hotly engaged in front 
of the Fredericksburg and Spottsylvania road. As 
soon as Birney's troops came on the ground, two brigades 
were thrown into action on Tyler's right. Some troops 
of the Fifth Corps, notably Cutler's brigade, had also been 
sent to reenforce Tyler, on his left, and these were put 
in. The contest was a severe one, and continued until 

* In ordering this assault, it was perhaps supposed that the Second 
Corps would be urged to greater effort to repeat its renowned achievements 
of the 12th on the same ground ; but such was not the case. Large numbers 
of the dead of that day were still unburied, and, having been exposed to a 
burning sun for nearly a week, presented a hideous and sickening sight, 
and such a stench arose from the field as to make many of the officers and 
men deathly sick. In fact, all the circumstances were such as to dishearten, 
instead of encouraging, the men. 



about 9 P. M., when the enemy's lines were driven back 
and broken at all points, and Ewell retreated rapidly across 
the Nye. His loss in this engagement was heavy in 
killed and wounded. He left about four hundred pris- 
oners in our hands. This was the first action in which 
Tyler's troops had taken part. They conducted them- 
selves very handsomely.* 

In concluding his official report of these operations, 
General Hancock writes as follows : 

" This action terminated the operations of my com- 
mand ; and during the second epoch of the campaign the 
losses in the Second Corps, in the several severe battles 
which this epoch embraces, were as follows : 












l i 




1 i 




I 1 

H S 



i s 


I S " 



Corps Hdqrs . . 




Art'y Brigade. 









1st Division. . 










2d Division . . . 










3d Division. . . 




















" From the commencement of the campaign the 
troops under my command marched and fought almost 
constantly. They had not had a single day's rest since 

* Tyler's men had taken off their knapsacks as they went into action, 
and the fine clothes and many comforts, fresh from Washington, exposed, 
attracted the attention of Birney's old veterans as they passed, and, not- 
withstanding the rapidity with which they were moving, it was observed 
that a vast number of coats, shoes, etc., changed owners, and that Tyler's 
men were not so fatigued on the long marches afterward by the weight of 
their knapsacks. 


the 2d of May. Their conduct was such as to merit the 
highest praise. They encountered the dangers, priva- 
tions, and fatigues incident to such arduous and perilous 
services with unshaken fortitude and intrepid valor. 

" Major-General Birney, commanding Third Division, 
and Brigadier-General (now Brevet Major-General) Bar- 
low, commanding First Division, are entitled to high 
commendation for the valor, ability, and promptness dis- 
played by them during the operations included in this 
epoch of the campaign. The magnificent charge made 
by their divisions, side by side, at Spottsylvania, on the 
12th of May, stands unsurpassed for its daring courage 
and brilliant success. 

" Brigadier-General (now Major-General) Gibbon, then 
commanding Second Division, and Brigadier- General (now 
Brevet Major-General) Mott, commanding the Fourth 
Division, until it was consolidated with Birney's division, 
merit high praise for the manner in which they handled 
the troops commanded by them. 

" Brigadier-General (now Brevet Major-General) Webb, 
commanding First Brigade, Second Division, was se- 
verely wounded while gallantly leading his troops at 
Spottsylvania, May 12th. 

"Colonel (now Brevet Major-General) Miles, per- 
formed marked and distinguished services, especially at 
Catharpen road, on the 8th, and at the battle of the Po, 
on the 10th, and at Spottsylvania, on the 12th and 18th 
of May. 

"Colonel Coons, Fourteenth Indiana Volunteers, 
Lieutenant-Colonel D. L. Stryker, Second Delaware Vol- 
unteers, and Lieutenant - Colonel Merriam, Sixteenth 
Massachusetts Volunteers, three brave and able officers, 
were killed while leading their men into action, during 


the storming of the enemy's works at Spottsylvania, on the 
morning of the 12th of May. Many other gallant officers 
and soldiers of my command exhibited rare and conspicuous 
valor and devotion during the battles described in this 
report whose names are unmentioned here, owing to the 
almost total absence of detailed reports from my subordi- 
nate commanders. Lieutenant-Colonel (now Brigadier- 
General) C. H. Morgan, my Chief of Staff, deserves es- 
pecial mention for distinguished services, which were par- 
ticularly meritorious and valuable at Spottsylvania, from 
the assistance he gave me in selecting the ground for the 
formation of the troops before the assault. 

" In the preliminary examination of the ground, and 
in the disposition of the troops for the assault, Major (now 
Lieutenant-Colonel and Brevet Brigadier-General) W. G. 
Mitchell, A. D. C., assisted General Morgan. 

"Surgeon (now Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel) A. IN". 
Dougherty, Medical Director, Second Army Corps, be- 
haved with great gallantry. He was wounded at Spott- 
sylvania on the 10th of May. 

"Major H. H. Bingham, Judge Advocate, Second 
Army Corps, conducted himself with his usual conspic- 
uous gallantry. He received a severe wound while cour- 
ageously performing his duty at Spottsylvania, on the 
12th of May." 

There is an old adage to the effect that it is the " will- 
ing horse that is worked to death." None of the troops 
in the Army of the Potomac got much rest during these 
bloody days, but the record seems to show that General 
Hancock was marching or assaulting without as much in- 
termission as fell to the lot of some others. On the 9th 
of May the Second Corps had moved from Todd's tav- 


ern, fording the Po, and having marched in the dark 
through the woods as far as the Block House bridge, the 
men bivouacked, supperless, and in their wet clothes. On 
the 10th, Barlow's division fought the desperate combat 
on the Po. Birney and Gibbon twice assaulted on War- 
ren's right, and Mott attacked near the " brown house." 
On the night of the llth the corps moved to the " brown 
house," and assaulted the enemy's intrenched lines at 4.30 
A. M. on the 12th, without previous rest or food, and re- 
mained fiercely engaged with the enemy for twenty 
hours. On the 13th, a heavy reconnoissance was made, 
and the 14th was passed in sharp skirmishing. On 
the morning of the 15th the corps moved again; was 
in motion all night of the 17th, preparatory to the attack 
of the 18th ; was again marching all night of the 18th, 
withdrawing from the lines and massing at the Ander- 
son house ; and now, on the third consecutive night, it 
was proposed to send it on a flank march of over twenty 
miles, to attack " vigorously " in the morning. 

Quotations from General Hancock's reports, giving 
commendatory notice of conspicuous gallantry or other 
meritorious action in his subordinate officers, are given a 
prominent place in this work, that the reader may appre- 
ciate a noteworthy feature of his character. A just recog- 
nition of the value of those who serve never fails to add 
dignity to the character of those who command. 


The March to Bowling Green Crossing the Mattapony at the North Anna 
Taking Position Throwing up Breastworks Gallant Charge by Egan's 
and Pierce's Brigades, Birney's Division Crossing the North Anna 
Strong Position of the Enemy March from the North Anna to the 
Pamunky Cavalry Engagement Harassing the Enemy Tolopotomy 
Creek Ordered to Cold Harbor. 

THE order for the march to Bowling Green and Mil- 
ford Station was as follows : 

May 19, ll P- M., 1864. 

" MAJOR-GENERAL HANCOCK, Commanding Second Corps : 
"The Major-General commanding directs that you 
move with your corps to-morrow at 2 A. M. to Bowling 
Green and Milford Station, via Guinea's Station, and 
take position on the right bank of the Mattapony, if prac- 
ticable. Should you encounter the enemy, you will at- 
tack him vigorously, and report immediately to these 
headquarters, which you will keep advised of your prog- 
ress from time to time. 

" Brigadier-General Torbert, with a cavalry force and 
a battery of horse artillery, is ordered to report to you 
for duty. An engineer officer and guide will be sent to 
you. Canvas pontoons will likewise be put at your dis- 

(Signed) " A. A. HUMPHREYS, 

Major- General, Chief of Staff." 


At once, upon receipt of this order, General Hancock 
directed a reconnoissance of the route of march by one 
of his staff with the headquarters escort, which was made 
as far as Guinea's Station, and, the location of the ene- 
my's signal stations being obtained, the hour of march 
was changed, at General Hancock's suggestion, to 11 
p. M., so as to permit those stations to be passed as 
far as possible before daylight. The corps moved ac- 
cordingly, and at break of day on the 21st the head of 
the column reached Guinea's Station, from which place 
Torbert drove the enemy's cavalry videttes. The troops 
reached Bowling Green at 10 A. M. At Milford Sta- 
tion, just beyond Bowling Green, our cavalry found the 
enemy in rifle-pits, on the north side of the Matta- 
pony, prepared to dispute the crossing. Before the in- 
fantry could get up, Torbert had dislodged this force (a 
part of Kemper's old brigade of infantry), capturing 
about sixty prisoners, and saving the bridge from serious 
injury. Barlow's division crossed as soon as it came up, 
the other divisions following, and a strong position was 
taken up on the high land about one mile from the river. 

The cavalry was pushed to the front to give timely 
notice of any movement of the enemy in our direction, 
in which case General Hancock had made all necessary 
preparations to attack. Considering the enemy might 
concentrate against this flanking column before "Warren, 
who was moving up the telegraph road, should come 
within supporting distance, a strong line of breastworks 
was thrown up along our front. 

The position was so powerful naturally, and so much 
strengthened by breastworks and slashing timber in front, 
that we were willing to undertake its defense against any 
force of the enemy. The troops were greatly exhausted 


at the conclusion of this day's work, and were harassed 
again at night by a groundless alarm among some of the 
new regiments of the corps. Fortunately, the next day 
the 22d was a day of rest.* 

At 5 A. M., on the 23d, the corps moved toward the 
North Anna Birney's division in advance and about 
midday reached the banks of that river, finding the cav- 
alry of our advance skirmishing briskly with the enemy. 
Birney formed a line across the telegraph road, Gibbon 
across the railroad, Tyler being posted in reserve. The 
long lines of the enemy's jaded troops could be seen on 
the opposite side of the river, forming simultaneously 
with ours, and a sharp artillery fire was opened on them, 
compelling them to take cover in the woods in the rear, 
and in the intrenchments which they had already pre- 

* It is to be noted that the course now being pursued by General Han- 
cock, in accordance with his orders from headquarters, was a part of the 
flank movement planned by General Grant after Spottsylvania, and which 
was to be a repetition of that by which he had withdrawn advancing 
from the Wilderness. Meanwhile, Lee's army was moving in a parallel line 
with the Union force, having the inside track, and keeping in the advance. 
It was, in fact, a race between these two vast columns, under the inspiration 
and guidance of skilled and experienced leaders, and forms in its history 
a most interesting and exciting event. 

The march of the armies extended through one of the most beautiful 
and highly cultivated regions of the " Old Dominion," and one hitherto un- 
scathed by the fiery breath of war. The land was dotted with those fine 
old Virginia homesteads, whose stately elms shadowed the hospitable man- 
sions, and all of whose surroundings reminded the observer of the ancient 
Colonial times, their broad acres recalling the baronial domains of old Eng- 

The object of the rival generals was to reach and cross the next impor- 
tant stream (the North Anna) each before his adversary. The marches of 
the 21st and 23d of May had brought our army near to the desired goal 
the north bank of the North Anna only to find the enemy strongly posted 
on its south bank, and ready to dispute its passage. 


pared to meet such a contingency as this. They held 
also a small earthwork on the north bank of the river, 
forming a bridge head to protect the county bridge. The 
enemy was quickly pressed back, until Gibbon's skirmish- 
ers reached the river on the left, and Birney's reached the 
strip of land between Long Creek and the river, on which 
the bridge head was placed. Birney succeeded in getting 
a brigade over the creek, and making such a reconnois- 
sance of the position as to satisfy himself that it could be 
taken ; and having reported this to General Hancock, he 
was directed to make the attempt. This was a little be- 
fore four o'clock ; it was half past six, however, before 
the arrangements for the assault were completed. 

At that hour Egan's and Pierce's brigades of Birney's 
division, led by their gallant commanders, charged from 
different points over an open field, several hundred yards 
in width, carrying the works with scarcely a check, and 
driving the enemy pell-mell across the river. ~No official 
report of this brilliant affair was ever submitted by Gen- 
eral Birney ; but this injustice was in part remedied by the 
fact that General Hancock was on the ground, and recorded 
what he saw in his own official report, in which he says : 
"I have seldom witnessed such gallantry and spirit as 
the brigades of Egan and Pierce displayed." Rare, but 
well-merited praise ! The artillery under Colonel Tid- 
ball was warmly engaged during this assault. A section 
of Arnold's Khode Island Battery was in action within 
close musketry range, and lost its gallant young com- 
mander, Lieutenant Hunt, who was mortally wounded. 
The enemy made numerous and determined efforts to 
burn the bridge as they fell back over the river, and at 
intervals during the ensuing night, but were frustrated 
by the vigilance of Birney's pickets. They succeeded, 


however, in burning the railroad bridge. Birney's divis- 
ion crossed the river at 8 A. M. the next day, and occu- 
pied the abandoned works about the Fox house, after 
driving off the enemy's pickets. The pontoon bridges 
were thrown across below the railroad bridge, on which 
Barlow's and Gibbon's divisions crossed and formed on 
Birney's left, which placed the entire corps (save Tyler's 
division, left in reserve at the captured bridge head) on 
the south side of the river. 

The impression evidently prevailed at army head- 
quarters that the enemy would not hold the line of the 
North Anna, but was falling back through Hanover 
Junction; and General Hancock was directed to cross 
his trains as soon as practicable and be prepared to move 
at once. This impression was wide from the truth, how- 
ever, for the enemy at this point held one of the most 
powerful and peculiar positions of the campaign. The 
line was in the shape of a V> the flanks resting on a 
natural obstacle, and the point of the V on the river. 
Hancock crossed to the left of the point, and "Warren to 
the right of it. All efforts to shake Lee's hold on the 
river and unite our several wings were futile. Warren 
and Hancock could reenf orce each other only by recrossing 
the river, marching several miles, and crossing again. 

It is possible that Lee was only prevented from at- 
tacking one or the other (Hancock or Warren) by the 
hope that the assault which had characterized the previous 
part of the campaign on our part would be renewed 
by General Grant at this point, and also by our bold 
movement in crossing to his side of the river. 

Warren was attacked while getting into position, but 
was not seriously molested thereafter. Smythe's brigade 
of Gibbon's division had a smart encounter with the 



enemy on the evening of the 24th. The enemy pressed 
our advanced posts heavily for a short time, but gained 
no advantage. 

May 25th and 26th passed without events of impor- 
tance to the Second Corps, the troops being engaged in 
destroying the railroad toward Milford, on the 26th. 
During that night he withdrew to the north bank of the 
North Anna, destroying the railroad and county bridges. 

About 10 A. M. on the 27th the corps moved from the 
North Anna over the county and old stage roads, and camp- 
ed that night about three miles from the Pamunky River. 

The march from Anderson's mill (commencing on 
the 21st at daybreak) to Bowling Green and Milford, and 
then to North Anna, was made very rapidly, and required 
great exertions from the officers and men. Their conduct 
was marked by their usual bravery and devotion to duty, 
in the severe contests which occurred during this epoch. 

The following list shows (partially) the loss in the 
Second Corps from 21st to 27th May, inclusive : 








w * 




1 s 



Corps Hdqrs ! 
Art'y Brigade 
1st Division 








2d Division 

3d Division 








* The casualties of the Fourth and Eighth Ohio Volunteers, Fourteenth 
Indiana Volunteers, and First Delaware Volunteers are not included in the 
above table. 


May 28th, the corps crossed the Pamunky and took 
position between the Fifth and Sixth Corps. The cav- 
alry, under General Sheridan, were hotly engaged at this 
time in our immediate front at Hawes's shop. On the 
29th, at midday, Barlow's division moved out on the 
Hanover Court-house road, to make a reconnoissance. 
The enemy's dead, killed in the cavalry engagement of 
the day before, were found in considerable numbers 
along the road and through the woods, but Barlow did 
not encounter the enemy until he struck his cavalry skir- 
mishers at the forks of the Cold Harbor and Hanover 
Court-house roads. The skirmishers of the First Divis- 
ion speedily dispersed the cavalry force, and the division 
pushed on till the works of the enemy, well manned, 
were developed on Swift Creek, a tributary of the Tolo- 
potomy. Barlow reporting the enemy in such force that it 
would probably require a general engagement to dislodge 
him, General Hancock at once ordered up Gibbon and 
Birney, whose divisions formed respectively on Barlow's 
right and left. On the left, on Gibbon's front, the ene- 
my's skirmish line of rifle-pits was handsomely carried by 
Brooke's brigade of Barlow's division, assisted by Owen's 
brigade, Gibbon's division. Our line at once advanced 
to the captured position. During the day the skirmish- 
ing was incessant, with some losses, and many acts of gal- 
lantry were performed in developing the enemy's line, 
which was very strongly posted, the greater part of his 
front being protected by a marsh. Our artillery was 
chiefly posted along the ridge on which the Sheldon 
house stands. 

About 3 r. M. the Sixth Corps moved up and took 
position on the right of the Second. A short time after 
7 P. M. General Meade directed General Hancock to at- 


tack tlie enemy "as soon as he could find a suitable 
place," in order to relieve Warren, then pressed by the 
enemy. The saving clause in the order could have been 
taken advantage of by a less vigorous soldier than Gen- 
eral Hancock, for darkness would have set in before any 
examination could have been made. But the object 
stated left, to a man of Hancock's mind, no alternative, 
and, without waiting to look for " a suitable place," know- 
ing that to be of service the attack must be made 
promptly, he ordered Barlow to advance at once, and 
with equal promptitude Barlow sent Brooke forward 
with his brigade. This excellent and energetic soldier 
pushed on over obstacles that would have deterred many 
others, and succeeded in capturing the strongly intrenched 
line in his front, and with it a few prisoners. As this 
occurred some time after dark, no immediate advantage 
could be taken of it. 

On the morning of the 31st, Birney was directed to 
cross Swift Hun and assail the enemy's advanced line on 
the right of the Richmond road. This movement was suc- 
cessfully executed, and the intrenchments earned. Gib- 
bon and Barlow pushed close up to the enemy's lines in 
their fronts, but found the position too strong to admit 
of successful assault. The remainder of this day and the 
1st of June passed with heavy skirmishing, but no en- 
gagement of importance occurred. 

The losses on the Tolopotomy, as the position of the 
corps on the 29th, 30th, and 31st of May, and 1st of June 
was designated, were quite severe in the aggregate, but 
were not reported separately. 

Early on the morning of June 1st "Wright's corps 
was withdrawn from our right toward Cold Harbor, and 
Birney's division was therefore withdrawn from the 


south side of the Bun. During the day the skirmish line 
was sharply engaged, but no heavy fighting occurred. 

On the night of June 1st the corps withdrew from 
the position of Tolopotomy Creek, under orders to mass 
near army headquarters; but that order was suddenly 
changed, and instructions were given to push on to Cold 
Harbor with all speed. 

In General Meade's orders for this movement, he says : 
" You must make every exertion to move promptly, and 
reach Cold Harbor as soon as possible. At that point you 
will take position to reenforce "Wright on his left, which 
it is desired to extend to the Chickahominy. Every con- 
fidence is felt that your gallant corps of veterans will move 
with vigor and endure the necessary fatigue." 

The night was intensely hot and close, and the dust 
was suffocating, but the wishes of General Meade would 
have been more than carried out, had it not been for the 
unfortunate mistake made by one of his staff sent to guide 
the column. This officer, an excellent soldier by the way, 
knowing General Hancock's anxiety to reach Cold Har- 
bor at the earliest moment, undertook to lead the column 
by a " short cut " through a wood road, forgetting the 
adage " that the longest way round is often the shortest 
way home." After traversing this wood for some distance, 
the road grew so narrow that the artillery caught between 
the trees and was eventually obliged to turn back, and, 
it being very dark at the time, the infantry moved on 
some distance without discovering the break in the col- 
umn in the rear, and the result was much confusion. 
General Hancock put his staff at work to remedy the evil 
as far as possible, and after great exertions the corps was 
reunited ; but all hope of reaching Cold Harbor before 
daybreak was gone, and it was not* until near 7 A. M. that 


the corps began to arrive at that point, and then in an ex- 
tremely exhausted condition. 

While the troops were struggling in the woods in the 
night, General Meade had ordered General Hancock to 
attack at once on reaching Cold Harbor, and endeavor to 
interpose between the enemy's right and the Chickahom- 
iny, and to secure a crossing of that stream. 


Cold Harbor Formation of the Second Corps The Assault General 
Brooke seriously wounded General McKecn killed The Attack re- 
pulsed by the Enemy General Grant on the Battle-field An Histori- 
cal Error corrected The Discipline and Loyalty of the Second Corps 
A Flag of Truce and Cessation of Hostilities Horrible Sufferings of 
the Wounded between the Lines Siege Operations Frightful Losses 
of the Second Corps The Movement to the James River. 

THE unfortunate delay which prevented the Second 
Corps from reaching Cold Harbor at the time anticipated, 
and the fatigued condition of the men after their excep- 
tionally toilsome journey, rendered an immediate assault 
on the enemy inexpedient, and the orders for the attack 
were suspended until 5 p. M. of June 2d, and finally until 
4.30 A. M. of the 3d. The corps was formed as follows : 
on Wright's left, Gibbon's division crossing the Mechanics- 
ville road, Barlow on his left. Birney's division, which 
had been left to support Smith's Eighteenth Corps in 
front of Moody's house, came up at 2 p. M. on the 2d, and 
was posted in rear of Barlow's left. 

All the ground required in taking positions was 
wrested from the enemy by heavy skirmish lines and 
sharp fighting. 

There was little opportunity after the troops got into 
position to make the close examination of the ground 
which was desired ; but every effort was made to get in- 
formation of the enemy's position. It was found that he 


held a sunken road in front of Barlow's division, which, 
if protected on the flanks and well manned, might prove 
as disastrous to the First Division as the sunken road and 
stone wall at Fredericksburg and the sunken road at An- 
tietam to the troops which assaulted them. Little could 
be learned of the enemy's main line in front of Barlow, 
on account of the dense growth of low pines which effec- 
tually screened it. In Gibbon's front the information 
gained was even more scant. 

Barlow's division was formed for the assault in two 
deployed lines : the brigades of those tried and ever-faith- 
ful leaders, Brooke and Miles, in the first line, and those 
of Byrnes and McDougall in the second. Gibbon had a 
similar formation for his first line, which consisted of 
Tyler's and Smythe's brigades, while those of McKeen 
and Owen were in close column of regiments in the sec- 
ond line. The gallant McKeen had been taken from his 
regiment to command one of General Gibbon's brigades 
in the First Division, a few days before, when the heavy 
artillery division (Tyler's) was broken up. 

Birney was ordered to support Barlow's advance, 
whose point of attack was a small house on a prominent 
point, notable for the fact that our artillery held it for a 
long time against Stonewall Jackson, on the day of the 
battle of Gaines's Mill, in 1862. 

At the appointed hour, on the morning of the 3d, 
the divisions of Barlow and Gibbon moved to the assault. 
Barlow had a severe struggle at the sunken road, where 
he found the enemy posted, but succeeded in dislodging 
him, and followed him closely into his works, under a 
heavy fire from artillery and musketry. At the moment 
of entering the works, Brooke was struck in the abdomen 
by a canister shot, and very seriously wounded, an irrep- 


arable loss at this critical moment. The troops, for a 
time, held possession of the works, seizing three guns 
and capturing one color and about three hundred pris- 
oners. Colonel L. O. Morris, who assumed command of 
Brooke's brigade when the latter was wounded, turned 
the captured guns upon the enemy, and endeavored to 
get them to work ; but the occasion now demanded other 
efforts, for the enemy's reserve was rapidly approach- 
ing, and, unfortunately, Barlow's second line was not 
near enough to sustain the first. Miles made desperate 
efforts to hold that portion of the line he had taken, but 
was forced back by an enfilading fire of artillery. Bar- 
low's men did not, however, retreat in confusion. With 
a gallantry rarely exhibited under such circumstances, a 
part of his line, particularly the One Hundred and For- 
ty-eighth Pennsylvania regiment, Colonel Beaver com- 
manding, faced to the enemy within a short distance of 
his line, and held their ground until they had constructed, 
with their bayonets and hands, a cover which enabled 
them to hold on permanently. The line so held was not 
more than thirty to forty paces from the enemy at one 

In this battle Colonel Byrnes, Twenty-eighth Mas- 
sachusetts Volunteers, commanding the Irish Brigade, 
Second Corps, which had been brought up in support, 
received a mortal wound. He was a brave and promising 
young officer. Colonel Morris, Sixty-sixth New York 
Volunteers, another valuable and gallant officer, was shot 
through the heart. 

On the right Gibbon was still more severely handled. 
The difficulties of the ground in his front were such 
that no rapid advance could be made, and the men were, 
therefore, longer exposed to the fire. His advance was 


made a little later than Barlow's, owing to delay in form- 
ing one of his brigades. His line was unfortunately 
cut in two by a marsh by which, as it widened as they 
advanced, the parts were more and more separated. 
Notwithstanding the obstacles of the ground, however, 
Gibbon's troops pushed close up to the enemy's works, 
but not in such strength and order as to enable them to 
go further. The officers and men behaved intrepidly. 
Colonel McMahon, One Hundred and Sixty-fourth New 
York Volunteers, bore his colors in his own hands to the 
enemy's works, planting them on the parapet, where he 
fell, pierced by many bullets, and expired in the enemy's 
hands, losing his colors with honor. The gallant McKecn 
(Eighty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers), commanding a 
brigade of Gibbon's division, fell mortally wounded, just 
in front of the breastwork. He was shot in the stomach, 
and suffered intense agony. Seeing that he would prob- 
ably be left to die between the lines of battle, it was re- 
ported that he begged his adjutant to kill him, and thus 
end his pain. 

Colonel Haskell, Thirty sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, 
whose courage and mettle had been formerly so con- 
spicuously shown at Gettysburg and en other fields, suc- 
ceeded to the command of McKeen's brigade, but had 
hardly ridden out to his line when he was shot through 
the head. Colonel Porter, Eighth New York Heavy 
Artillery, was also among the killed in this onslaught, and 
General Tyler was dangerously wounded and carried from 
the field. " 

But Gibbon's troops did not retire in disorder. Re- 
pelled, but not routed, they, too, held a position close to 
the enemy. Smythe's brigade even made a second attack, 
but failed to effect a lodgment, because, as stated in Gen- 


eral Gibbon's report, of a blunder on the part of the 
commander of the brigade ordered to Smythe's support. 

Birney's division took no part in the assault. It was 
not near enough to be brought up in time to take part in 
Barlow's attack. General Hancock was with Barlow's 
division during the assault. Offensive movements on our 
part ceased with the repulse of Smythe's second advance. 

About this time General Grant visited General Han- 
cock on the battle-field, and inquired how the fight had 
gone. General Hancock informed him that we had been 
repulsed, and had lost very severely, especially in valu- 
able and distinguished officers, whom it would be hard 
to replace, and that the Second Corps had received a blow 
from which it would be difficult to recover mentioning 
McKeen, Haskell, McMahon, Byrnes, and others. After 
some conversation, General Grant asked General Hancock 
whether he thought another assault would be likely to 
succeed. General Hancock replied that he was of the 
opinion that it would not ; but that he would send to his 
division commanders and get their views on the subject, 
which he at once did. All of the division commanders 
were of the opinion that we could not carry the enemy's 
line by another attack. 

General Grant then said that he would like General 
Hancock to have his troops in readiness to advance again 
against the enemy's works in the course of the morning, 
but also said that the advance should not be made unless 
further orders to that effect were received from himself 
or General Meade. General Grant then rode to another 
part of our lines. General Hancock at once gave the 
necessary orders to his division commanders to have their 
troops in readiness, in case he was ordered to make an- 
other attack. No such orders reached him, however, 


from General Grant or General Meade, but about 9 A. M. 
General Hancock received the following : 

June 3, 1864, 8.45 A. M. 

" MAJOE-GENEKAL HANCOCK : I send you two notes 
from "Wright, who thinks he can carry the enemy's main 
line if he is relieved by attacks of the Second and 
Eighteenth Corps ; also, that he is under the impression 
that he is in advance of you. It is of the greatest im- 
portance no effort should be spared to succeed. Wright 
and Smith are both going to try again, and, unless you 
consider it hopeless, I would like you to do the same. 
(Signed) "GEOKGE G. MEADE, Major-General" 

From prisoners captured, General Hancock knew 
when he received the above note that Bushrod Johnson's 
entire division had come up and reenforced the enemy 
in their works in his front, and did not therefore con- 
sider we had any hope of success in another attack. How 
far the first attacks of Smith and "Wright had been 
pushed does not appear in any published accounts of the 
battle, but we have never heard that any other troops 
than those of the Second Corps penetrated the enemy's 
lines or secured any trophies. General Wright's impres- 
sion that he was in advance of the Second Corps was 
due, no doubt, to the direction of the line, for, as we have 
seen, the Second Corps line was almost in contact with 
that of the enemy, both in Barlow's and Gibbon's fronts, 
and so remained until the army moved to the James 

An assault by the Second Corps had never been a 
trifling affair. Blood always followed the blow. An 
idea of the desperate fighting during this day's battle 


may be formed from the fact that the official report 
showed the losses in the Second Corps to be over three 
thousand men and officers, and this when only the two 
smallest divisions of the corps were actually engaged. 

General Hancock had seen the young men whom he 
had trained to war and educated to command on whom 
he relied in emergencies, and some of whom he had 
learned to love with a sincere affection struck down in 
quick succession, in their chivalrous efforts to add another 
victory to our arms. He knew that the unlimited devo- 
tion of his men was capable of still further sacrifice, but 
he recoiled from sending them again to useless slaughter. 
It has been stated in Swinton's " Army of the Potomac," 
and since in various publications, that the order was ac- 
tually given for a second assault at Cold Harbor on the 
morning of June 3d, but that, when it reached the troops 
in regular succession through division, brigade, and regi- 
mental commanders, no man stirred. 

Whether such an occurrence was possible in any body 
of troops in the Army of the Potomac may well be ques- 
tioned ; certainly it was an impossibility and an absur- 
dity when ascribed to the Second Corps. Leaving out 
of view the men like Barlow, Mott, Smythe, Miles, and 
many others, whom no danger could daunt, nor any con- 
siderations deter from prompt compliance with orders to 
advance, even if certain death seemed to await them, 
those who know General Hancock know also that, in 
such a contingency as is narrated by Swinton, he would 
have ridden to the front line and forced the men against 
the enemy. 

About 10.40 A. M., on the 3d, after it was seen that 
we could not carry the enemy's lines, Birney's division 
was sent to the support of the Fifth Corps (Warren's), at 


Moody's liousc, on the right of the Eighteenth Corps, 
where it remained until the 5th. 

In the evening, just before dark, the enemy attacked 
both Barlow's and Gibbon's lines, but were easily repelled. 

Early on the morning of the 4th Gibbon's sharp- 
shooters found the body of Colonel McKeen, and secured 
his watch and papers, but his body was so close to the 
enemy's line that they were unable to remove it. This 
day was characterized by very heavy artillery firing and a 
repetition of the attempt on Barlow's and Gibbon's lines 
in the evening. 

Colonel L. O. Morris, Seventh New York Heavy 
Artillery, who had fallen to the command of Brooke's 
brigade, after that officer was wounded on the 3d, was 
killed this day in the trenches by one of the enemy's 
sharpshooters. Colonel James A. Beaver, One Hundred 
and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, succeeded him 
in command of the brigade. 

Regular approaches against the enemy having now 
been decided upon, work to that end was begun by the 
One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Yolunteers, 
Barlow's division, and on Gibbon's front. 

On the 5th, about 5 p. M., Colonel Lyman, of Gen- 
eral Meade's staff, and Major Mitchell, aide to General 
Hancock, carried out a flag of truce on the Mechan- 
icsville road, which was met by Major Wooten, of the 
Eighteenth North Carolina Infantry. General Lee being 
absent from his headquarters, no reply was received to 
the dispatch borne by Colonel Lyman until nearly ten 
o'clock. The flag was again put out the following morn- 
ing, with a letter from General Grant to General Lee, 
but it was not until the 7th that an arrangement was ef- 
fected for a cessation of hostilities from 6 to 8 p. M., for 


the purpose of burying the dead and succoring the 
wounded between the lines. 

While holding the lines at Cold Harbor, General 
Hancock insisted upon retaining his headquarters in the 
very exposed location selected on the morning of his 
arrival. Unable to conceal his anxiety during the heavy 
firing which occurred each night, the General would call 
for his horse and ride rapidly toward that point of the 
line where the firing was heaviest. On one of these oc- 
casions his absence from his headquarters seemed remark- 
ably providential. He had hurried off, accompanied by 
one or two of his staff, and, while the remainder were 
having their horses brought up, a shell came whistling 
into headquarters' camp, and struck the Assistant Pro- 
vost Marshal of the corps, Captain Alexander McCune, 
who was standing in the door of General Hancock's tent, 
carrying off one of his legs below the knees, a wound 
from which he died a few days after. 

When Birney's division rejoined the corps of the 
Fifth, it extended our line to the left nearly to the 

The corps remained in position, taking part in the 
siege operations at Cold Harbor, until the night of June 
12th, when it took up the march for James Kiver, glad 
to lose sight of the ground where it had met such losses. 
It had, in fact, received an almost mortal blow at Cold 
Harbor, and never again in that campaign recovered its 
full force. 

A story was current in the army about this time that 
General Hancock, upon being asked where the Second 
Corps was, replied that " it lay buried between the Kapi- 
dan and the James." 

This reply might have been made without any great 


exaggeration, for it had lost in battle the flower of its 
strength. The average loss for a period of about thirty 
days was over 400 men daily. It was not in numbers 
only, however, that the blow was so grievously felt. 
Between these rivers the corps had suffered terribly in 
the loss of its leaders the men whose presence, experi- 
ence, and example were worth many thousands of men. 
Hays, Abbott, Merriam, Carroll, Webb, Brown, Coons, 
Stryker, Tyler, Byrnes, McMahon, Brooke, Haskell, Mc- 
Keen, Porter, the Morrises, and many other leaders of 
troops in battle were dead or gone from the corps by 
reason of wounds ; and, although there were many other 
brave and efficient officers left, the places of those who 
had been taken could not be filled, as the right men, un- 
fortunately, are not always in the right places, and, in 
fact, are frequently unknown, until circumstance and ex- 
perience have developed them. 


The Change of Base Crossing the James Ordered to Petersburg A 
Chapter of Accidents Blind Guides General Grant's Order Opera- 
tions in Front of Petersburg The Assault Gallant Conduct of Gen- 
eral Barlow Death of Colonel Kelly (Eighty-eighth New York Volun- 
teers), commanding the Irish Brigade General Hancock disabled 
by his Old Wound He relinquishes his Command to Major-General 

THE change of base to the James River in front of an 
enemy who had exhibited such consummate ability was a 
delicate and hazardous movement ; but General Grant, as- 
sisted by his able subordinates, accomplished it with much 
skill and with entire success. We have not space for the 
details of the whole process, but must be content with 
describing the movements of the forces under the im- 
mediate command of General Hancock. This we are en- 
abled to do with exactness, aided by the kindness and 
scholarly ability of General C. H. Morgan, late Chief of 
Staff of the Second Corps, whose narrative has been 
kindly placed at our service. 

The march across the Peninsula (fifty-five miles) occu- 
pied two days, and was admirably conducted by every 
part of the army, Lee making no attempt to interfere 
with the withdrawal of the Union forces. The point on 
the James which the army struck was below Harrison's 
Landing. Delay was occasioned by the non-arrival of 
pontoons ; but, as we shall see, other means were sup- 


plied for transporting his troops over the river. The de- 
tails of his movement are as follows. 

Barlow's division marched out of the lines at Cold 
Harbor at 11 P. M., June 12th, followed in succession by 
Gibbon and Birney. The lines were so close, and the 
picket firing had been so incessant for many days, that its 
cessation on our part was sufficient of itself to notify the 
enemy that we were moving. It w r as, therefore, an op- 
eration of great delicacy to disengage ourselves from this 
position without a contest. The movement was happily 
accomplished, however ; and some time after the divis- 
ions had marched, the picket line was quietly withdrawn 
and joined to the corps by Colonel Hamill, Sixty-sixth 
New York Volunteers, field officer of the day of the Sec- 
ond Corps an officer who, from his coolness and other 
soldierly qualities, was especially adapted for such deli- 
cate service assisted by Captain "W. P. Wilson, A. D. C., 
whom General Hancock had detailed for duty with Colo- 
nel Hamill on that occasion. 

After a weary night-march the corps reached Jones's 
Bridge over the Chickahominy. At this point Birney's 
division took the lead, and the column proceeded toward 
the James River, bivouacking at Wilcox Landing, between 
five and six o'clock that evening. 

A few minutes past ten o'clock the next morning, the 
transports were in readiness to begin crossing the troops 
to Windmill Point, on the south bank of the James. A 
bridge of boats was constructed at a lower point on the 
river, on which other corps of the army crossed. 

General Hancock established his headquarters at the 
landing, to superintend the transfer, and so energetically 
was it pushed that, despite the somewhat limited means 
at command, the three divisions and four batteries of the 


corps were landed on the south bank at Windmill Point, 
ready to move by 6.30 A. M. on the 15th. 

During the night of the 14th General Hancock re- 
ceived the following instructions from General Meade : 

" General Butler has been ordered to send to you 
at "Windmill Point sixty thousand (60,000) rations. So 
soon as they are received and issued, you will move your 
command by the most direct route to Petersburg, taking 
up a position where the City Point Railroad crosses Har- 
rison's Creek, at the cross roads indicated at this point, 
and extend your right toward the mouth of Harrison's 
Creek, where we now have a work." 

We quote these instructions in full, because the march 
of the Second Corps and the hour of its arrival at Peters- 
burg had a very decided bearing on the fate of that city, 
and formed the subject of considerable controversy at the 

Early on the morning of the 15th, General Hancock 
issued his orders of march, directing Birney's division to 
move at 9 A. M., or as soon thereafter as it had drawn its 
rations. At 6.30 A. M. General Hancock notified Gen- 
eral Meade that the rations had not arrived, and at Y.30 
A. M. General Meade replied that the corps should move 
without its rations, leaving an officer to conduct the tran- 
sport to some suitable point on the Appomattox. But it 
chanced that, just as this order was received, General 
Hancock was informed that the rations had arrived and 
were being unloaded this report being made by the en- 
gineer officer charged with the repair of the wharf at 
which the transport was to land. General Hancock was 
therefore authorized to go on with the issue, and it was 
not until an hour later that word reached him that the 
report concerning the arrival of the rations was erroneous, 


the officer who made it having seen a transport from City 
Point go to the wharf, and surmised the rest. As soon as 
this was ascertained, the ration details were recalled, and 
the column ordered to move. (It may be mentioned here 
that the transport arrived about noon, and, as she drew 
eleven feet of water, could not have unloaded at any 
wharf on the south side.) General Hancock remained on 
the north bank, hurrying forward the embarkation of his 
ammunition and artillery, until the last-mentioned or- 
der was received, when he crossed the river and joined 
his troops. His having been in the saddle almost night 
and day since the 3d of May had caused the wound he 
had received at Gettysburg to become much irritated and 
inflamed, threatening, in fact, to compel him to quit the 
field for a time. He was now, in consequence, obliged to 
travel in an ambulance, leaving his chief of staff to con- 
duct the column. 

A map had been furnished General Hancock from 
army headquarters for his guidance, on which the desig- 
nated position of the corps at Harrison's Creek was traced 
in colored crayon. According to the map, Harrison's 
Creek was about four miles from Petersburg, in the di- 
rection of City Point. As is now well known, the posi- 
tion indicated had no existence, and Harrison's Creek was 
within the enemy's lines. 

The order to move was given at 9.15 A. M. by signal 
telegraph, and also transmitted at the same hour by the 
hands of a staff officer ; but, to add to the chapter of ac- 
cidents, the boat in which the staff officer took passage 
grounded, and he was delayed thirteen minutes, while the 
signal dispatch miscarried entirely. If we describe these 
incidents with some minuteness, we hope it may not there- 
fore be inferred that we attach any great importance to 


them, for the corps could have moved at half past six with 
one day's rations, had it been so ordered, or had General 
Hancock surmised that he was an element in any impor- 
tant combination made by the Lieutenant-General, or that 
any attack was to be made on Petersburg that day. As it 
was, the column moved at 10.30 A. M. The country was 
pretty thoroughly swept of its white inhabitants, who had 
fled at the approach of our army, and the roads had from 
disuse ceased to have the appearance of highways. 

Some negro guides were procured, but neither they 
nor the occasional white people found could give any in- 
formation concerning Harrison's Creek. 

It was finally determined that the map was worse 
than useless as a guide. The day was very hot, and but 
little water was found on the route, causing the men to 
suffer severely. No delays occurred, however, after the 
inarch began, and about 3 p. M. Birney's division was 
within six miles of Petersburg, on the Prince George 
Court-house road. Here it was decided, from informa- 
tion gleaned from negroes, that the speediest method of 
getting to the position the corps was ordered to take 
was to march to old Court-house, and thence by a cross 
road to the line behind Harrison's Creek. Accordingly 
Birney and Gibbon were turned in the direction of Old 
Court-house, while Barlow, who was in their rear, took a 
shorter road from Powell's Creek to Old Court-house, 
followed by the train. 

Random artillery firing had been heard at intervals 
during the march, and, as the column turned from the 
direct road to Petersburg, the firing without being 
heavier than that from a single battery became brisk 
enough to cause the question to be presented to General 
Hancock's mind, whether or not he should march toward 


the guns. Inquiry at the houses in the vicinity showed 
that Kautz's division of cavalry with several guns Had 
passed toward Petersburg in the morning, and the firing 
was naturally attributed to a reconnoissance or raid by 
the cavalry, and General Hancock therefore decided to 
adhere to his original instructions. He had a right to 
suppose that if any enterprise had been set on foot which 
might require his cooperation, he would have been in- 
formed thereof, in order that he might direct the march 
of his troops with intelligence. General Hancock's sur- 
prise may therefore be imagined when, at half past five, 
as the head of his column was about a mile from Old 
Court-house, he received the following dispatch from 
Lieutenant-General Grant, addressed to General Gibbon 
or any division commander of the Second Corps : 

" Some of my staff, who came up from Fort Pow- 
hatan, report not having seen the Second Corps march- 
ing as they passed. Orders were sent for the corps to 
march early this morning, and General Meade reported 
that the orders were sent at 6 A. M. [It has been seen 
that these orders were modified by consent of General 
Meade, on account of the rations, which had been or- 
dered to the corps.] Use all haste in getting up. Smith 
carried the outer works at Petersburg to-day, and may 
need your assistance. This order is intended for the 
w r hole Second Corps and directed to you, supposing you 
to have the. advance. Communicate it to all the division 
commanders and to General Hancock, and push forward 
as rapidly as possible. Commissary stores are now being 
loaded into wagons, and will reach you some time to-night 
on the road. 

(Signed) "U. S. GKANT, Lieutenant- General" 


Fortunately the Lead of the column at this time was 
nearly opposite the Middle Road leading to Petersburg, 
and was at once turned in that direction. 

One of General Barlow's staff had brought the above 
order to General Hancock (it had reached General Bar- 
low, instead of General Gibbon), and word was sent back 
by him that the leading divisions had marched for Peters- 
burg, and that, if Barlow would take a cross road in the 
same direction, he would be met at the City Point Rail- 
road crossing, and shown to his position. Staff officers 
were dispatched by General Hancock to General Smith, 
to ascertain the situation and to find the roads by which 
the troops would probably move in taking position, Gen- 
eral Hancock himself, notwithstanding the condition of 
his wound, insisting upon mounting his horse and going 
to the front, though he was in such excruciating pain as 
to be unable to bear riding faster than a walk. 

General Hancock's wound, received at Gettysburg, 
continued to give him great trouble and annoyance during 
the campaign, and, although he continued with his com- 
mand, he was obliged to travel in an ambulance a great 
portion of the time. His habit, on the march, was to 
remain in his ambulance at the head of his column until 
in the vicinity of the enemy, when he mounted his 
horse, and there remained until the fighting was over. 
During the whole of the summer of 1864 he was daily 
attended by a surgeon on account of his wound, which 
at that time was much irritated, and discharging more or 
less all the time small portions of the bone at times 
passing from it. 

While in front of the enemy's works at Petersburg, 
Virginia, in June, 1864, when the troops were constantly 
under fire, and the General was obliged to be mounted 


nearly all of tlie time, both day and night, his wound be- 
came so inflamed and dangerous that, as will be hereafter 
seen, he was compelled to relinquish command of the 
corps for a few days (June 17th, after the bloody fight of 
that day was over), and turned it over to his next in rank. 
He did not, however, leave the field, but continued with 
the troops, and again assumed command of the corps, 
June 27th, finding himself much relieved by the dis- 
charge of quite a large piece of bone from the wound. 

He continued to suffer from this wound during all 
the rest of the war. 

Half an hour after the receipt of the dispatch from 
the Lieutenant-General, the following was received from 
General Smith : 

(No Jiour.) 


" GENERAL : General Grant has authorized me to call 
on you to hurry forward to Petersburg, to aid in its cap- 
ture. At present I do not suppose there is much infantry 
force there, but the wide open spaces along my entire 
front, and the heavy artillery fire of the enemy, have pre- 
vented me from attempting any assault, and from getting 
my artillery into position to do any service. If the Sec- 
ond Corps can come up in time to make an assault to- 
night after dark, in vicinity of Norfolk and Petersburg 
Railroad, I think it may be successful. But to-night is 
the last night, as General Lee is reported crossing at 
Chapin's Bluff. Please inform me by bearer when the 
head of your column may be expected here. My left is 
at the Jordan Point road. Respectfully, 

(Signed) " WILLIAM F. SMITH, 

" Major- General Commanding" 


At 6.30 P. M. the head of General Hancock's column 
(Birney's division) had arrived at the Bryant house, on 
Bailey's Creek, about one mile in rear of Hinck's divis- 
ion of the Eighteenth Corps. Gibbon followed closely, 
and both divisions were massed at that point, with in- 
structions to move up as soon as they could ascertain 
where their assistance was needed. 

General Hancock, in the mean time, sought General 
Smith on the field, and met him on his line just at dusk. 
In the interview which followed, General Hancock ten- 
dered to General Smith the use of Gibbon's and Birney',j3 
divisions for any further operations General Smith might 
desire to make, telling him in substance that it was too 
dark for him (General Hancock) to make any examination 
of the position, and as General Smith had acquired famili- 
arity with the situation, by having been in front of the 
works during the afternoon, he should know best what 
ought to be done. 

At General Smith's request the two divisions were 
brought up, and relieved the troops of the Eighteenth 
Corps in the captured works, between the Friend and 
Dunn houses, embracing nearly, if not quite all, of the 
captured line, Gibbon taking the right of the Prince 
George road, and Birney the left. It was about 11 p. M. 
when this operation was completed. 

The failure of the Second Corps to arrive " in time " 
was given in the " K~ew York Tribune," a day or two 
after, as the reason why Petersburg was not taken on the 
15th June. It must be clear, from the narrative we have 
given, that the hour of arrival of the Second Corps was 
as soon after General Grant's dispatch was received as 

That General Hancock was under no responsibility 


to go to Petersburg before the receipt of that dispatch 
must be equally apparent. Feeling aggrieved at the 
charges referred to, as they evidently came from an 
official origin, General Hancock applied for a court of 
inquiry, and then the remarkable fact was developed that 
not even General Meade, the Commander of the Army 
of the Potomac, knew that Petersburg was to be at- 

In endorsing General Hancock's application, General 
Meade says, "Had either General Hancock or myself 
known that Petersburg was to be attacked, Petersburg 
would have fallen." 

General Hancock was thoroughly impressed with the 
importance of gaining every foot of ground which could 
be seized in the direction of the Appomattox. After 
midnight, on the 15th, therefore, he sent the following 
instructions to Generals Gibbon and Birney : 

" If there are any points on your front commanding 
your position, now occupied by the enemy, the Major- 
General commanding directs that they be taken at or be- 
fore daylight, preferably before, as it is desirable to pre- 
vent the enemy from holding any points between us and 
the Appomattox. It is thought there are one or two such 
points. General Barlow will soon be up, and will mass 
on Gibbon's left." 

This dispatch was delivered to Generals Gibbon and 
Birney between 1 and 2 A. M. on the 16th. Barlow's 
division had missed its road from Old Church, and, for 
some reason not easily understood, had marched toward 
City Point, until it was stopped by one of General Han- 
cock's staff, and the column placed on the Petersburg 
road too late, however, to enable the division to get on 
the field that evening (the 15th). It bivouacked about 


three miles in the rear, and came up early the next 

In regard to the manner in which the instructions we 
have just quoted were carried out, it may be said that 
nothing was done during the night. The enemy's pickets 
were firing briskly while Gibbon and Birney were relieving 
the troops of the Eighteenth Corps, and the commander 
reported that the darkness prevented the necessary exam- 
ination to determine whether or not the enemy occupied 
any positions in front such as were spoken of in General 
Hancock's note. 

The General rode to the line of the Second Division 
soon after daybreak, and found the enemy's pickets 
within pistol-shot of the intrenchments. A staff officer, 
who was sent to Birney's front, passed through his line 
and out toward the Avery house, without seeing any of 
Birney's pickets, but saw the enemy forming line of battle 
to the right, and in front of that point, seizing the large 
redoubt in that vicinity, and stealing, an hour after day- 
light, the very ground Burnside and Barlow afterward 
assaulted with such heavy loss. The troops of the enemy 
seen were evidently coming in great haste from Peters- 
burg, the column being stretched out in such manner as 
to indicate that the march had been hurried. 

During the temporary absence of both General Grant 
and General Meade on the morning of the 16th, General 
Hancock was instructed to take command of all the 
troops then in front of Petersburg, and to push forward 
a reconnoissance to determine a suitable place for an as- 
sault which it was proposed to make at 6 p. M. Bar- 
low's division had been meanwhile formed on Bir- 
ney's left, and Burnside's corps, which came up later, 
had massed on Barlow's left, under instructions to as- 


sist in the assault, or in case the enemy should attack 
our lines. 

The reconnoissance was made by Birney on the left of 
the Prince George Court-house road. General Meade ar- 
rived while it was in progress, and it was decided that the 
attack should be made toward the Hare house on Birney's 
front. This reconnoissance led to a very animated skir- 
mish and artillery fire, which continued to the time set 
for the assault. The burden of the attack fell upon Bar- 
low's and Birney's divisions. Gibbon was, however, en- 
gaged, and two brigades of the Eighteenth Corps and two 
of the Ninth were used as supports. It was evident that 
Lee's veterans had arrived, for the spirited attacks of Bir- 
ney and Barlow failed to break the enemy's line, though 
it was forced back some distance. General Barlow led 
one of his assaults, cap in hand, but his example was in 
vain. He was bravely seconded by his officers, many of 
whom were shot down. The gallant Colonel Patrick 
Kelly, Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers, commanding 
the Irish Brigade, was killed at the head of his command 
while cheering them on. He was a most faithful, intrepid, 
and reliable soldier. Colonel James A. Beaver, One 
Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, com- 
manding the Fourth brigade of Barlow's division, was se- 
riously wounded at the head of his command, leaving that 
brigade in the hands of its fourth commander within a 
fortnight. The skirmish and artillery fire continued much 
of the night, as at Cold Harbor. 

The 17th passed without an assault by the Second 
Corps, although the troops were engaged at intervals dur- 
ing the day in checking the attempt of the enemy to feel 
our lines. Burnside made a successful assault in the 
morning from Barlow's left, capturing several guns and 


some prisoners. He attacked again in the evening un- 
successfully, in which attack Barlow participated, losing 
largely, particularly in prisoners. These assaults were 
made against the positions taken up by the enemy late on 
the previous morning, as already described. By night of 
the lYth General Hancock's wound had become so irri- 
tated and painful as to compel him temporarily to relin- 
quish the command of his corps, which was turned over 
to the next senior, Major-General Birney. 


Petersburg General Birney in Command Persistent but Futile Attempts 
to carry the Enemy's Lines The Assault abandoned The Union 
Army fortifies its Position Threatening the Weldon Road Capture of 
a Second Corps Battery The Men dispirited General Hancock re- 
sumes his Command General Order No. 22 General Birney takes 
command of the Tenth Corps Losses of the Second Corps from the 
Crossing of the James to July 26th, 1864. 

THE history of the bloody assaults, made on the 18th 
under General Birney' s orders, has never been written. 
At daylight he pushed forward a strong skirmish line on 
the right and left of the Prince George Court-house 
road, and found that the enemy had withdrawn from the 
positions they held the night before, to the new line be- 
yond the Hare house. It is very evident that it was not 
then supposed at army headquarters that the purpose of 
the enemy in holding their advanced ground so tenacious- 
ly was to permit the construction of the new line, which 
Lee held so long and successfully afterward, for at 7 A. M. 
the following was sent to General Birney : 

" June 18th, 7 A. M. 

" MAJOR-GENERAL BIRNEY : I have received your dis- 
patch and Hoke's man. There is every reason to believe 
the enemy have no regularly fortified line between the one 
abandoned and Petersburg ; but, if time is given them, 


they will make one. I have moved the whole army for- 
ward, and directed the commanding officers on your right 
and left to communicate with you. It is of great impor- 
tance the enemy should be pressed, and, if possible, forced 
across the Appomattox. I can not ascertain whether 
there is any force in our front but Beauregard's, consisting 
of Hoke's, Ransom's and Johnson's (Bushrod) divisions. 
They can not be over 30,000, and we have 55,000. If we 
can engage them before they are fortified, we ought to 
whip them. 

(Signed) " GEO. G. MEADE." 

General Birney pushed on until he developed the 
works of the enemy, and, between 10 and 11 A. M., re- 
ported to General Meade that their position was strong; 
that artillery could not assist in attacking them ; and that 
he (Birney) was ready to assault when Martindale and 
Neill (commanding troops of the Eighteenth Corps on 
the right of the Second) were ready. 

General Meade directed that the attack should be 
made at 12 M., by headquarters time ; that the column of 
assault should be strong, well supported, and vigorously 
pushed, and should advance without firing until it had 
penetrated the enemy's lines. The main assault was 
made by Gibbon's division in two lines, and it must have 
been made " on time," for at 12.20 p. M. General Pierce, 
then commanding a brigade in Gibbon's division, reports 
that the assault has been repulsed, and a postscript to the 
same dispatch announces the wounding of Pierce himself. 

General Birney, however, determined to renew the 
assault, and, on notifying General Meade of this intention, 
received the following reply : 

" You will attack again as you propose with the least 


possible delay. The order of attack this morning re- 
quired strong columns of assault. Please conform to 
this. General Martindale is about advancing again, and 
needs your cooperation. Select your own point of attack, 
but do not lose any time in examination." 

Martindale's previous advance to a crest occupied by 
the enemy met with little opposition. He secured about 
forty prisoners. We give one more dispatch from Gen- 
eral Meade, to show the persistence with which he at- 
tempted to force the lines of Petersburg on the 18th. 

"June 18, 1864. 

" MAJOK-GENEKAL BIKNEY : I have sent a positive 
order to Generals Burnside and Warren to attack, at all 
hazards, with their whole force. I find it useless to ap- 
point an hour to effect cooperation, and I am therefore 
compelled to give you the same order. You have a large 
corps, powerful and numerous, and I beg you will at 
once, as soon as possible, assault in a strong column. The 
day is fast going, and I wish the practicability of carry- 
ing the enemy's line settled before dark. 

(Signed) " GEO. G. MEADE, 

" Major- General" 

Birney's next attempt was made from the Hare house 
on Mott's front, with two columns formed in columns of 
regiments. Mott took the measures most likely to lead 
to success. The First Maine Heavy Artillery, nearly one 
thousand strong, was in his command, and, as it was a new 
regiment, composed of exceptionally good material, and 
had not yet become disheartened by repeated and unsuc- 
cessful assaults, Mott determined that it should lead the 


attack, and, if it gained any advantages, the old, tried reg- 
iments in the rear should secure and retain them. The 
First Maine made a most gallant advance. They charged, 
without firing, across an open field about three hundred 
and fifty yards in width, but failed to penetrate the ene- 
my's lines, leaving over six hundred in killed and wound- 
ed. The veteran regiments in the rear, who, as Mott 
said, " had seen the wolf and bore his scars," did not per- 
sist in the assault. 

Barlow's division had its full share in the assaults 
made this day on the immediate right of the Ninth 
Corps and left of Mott's division, but the details of the 
movements are not known. The mortality list, however, 
speaks for itself. 

At 5 P. M. General Meade had become satisfied that 
it was impracticable to carry the enemy's lines, but his 
last dispatch shows how firmly he had set his soul upon 
the attempt. 

"5 P. M., June 18, 1864. 

" MAJOR-GENERAL BIRNEY : Sorry to hear you could 
not carry the works. Get the best line you can, and be 
prepared to hold it. I suppose you can not make any 
more attacks, and feel satisfied all has been done that can 
be done. 

(Signed) " GEORGE G. MEADE, 

" Major- General Commanding." 

Here ended the long list of terrible and bloody as- 
saults, inaugurated at Spottsylvania, in which the Army 
of the Potomac was hurled against the enemy's lines ; to 
be seized at every rebound, and hurled again and again, 
until all opposition was beaten down by the mere shock 
of impact. 


On the 19th the army was busily engaged in strength- 
ening its position by breastworks. On the 20th the Sec- 
ond Corps was relieved from the lines by the Sixth and 
Ninth Corps, and massed in rear of the left center. This 
going " in reserve " was an old joke in the corps. As 
long ago as Gettysburg, when it was announced that the 
Second Corps would be in reserve, a brisk little Irishman 
in the Irish Brigade created much merriment among his 
comrades by his dry observation, " Yis, resarved for the 
hard fighting." Accordingly, no surprise was felt when 
the morning saw the corps on the move across the Nor- 
folk Railroad and Jerusalem plank road, where it took up 
Warren's line and extended it to the Williams house 
this being the first of the extensions to the left in front 
of Petersburg which had for their object the cutting of 
the Weldon and Lynchburg Road. This road was the 
line of supply, both of men and of provisions, for Lee's 
army. It connected Richmond with North Carolina, and 
was also a line of retreat. Hence the importance of con- 
trolling it. Barlow's division had the left, and pushed 
to within two miles of the Weldon Road, skirmishing 
with the enemy's cavalry. He was relieved by the Sixth 
Corps, which, on the night of the 21st, took up the line 
from the left of the Second Corps to the Williams 

On the night of the 21st General Birney was ordered 
to move forward, in connection with the Sixth Corps, to 
more closely envelope the enemy's line. The left being 
the exposed flank, General Birney directed that it should 
preserve its connection with the Sixth Corps, and make 
its progress correspond with General Wright's right. 
General Meade, becoming impatient at the delay to which 
this methodical arrangement gave rise, ordered each corps 


to move forward independently of the other. The enemy 
were already feeling the right of the Sixth Corps line, 
and as Birney swung forward, in obedience to General 
Meade's orders, he left this firing to his rear and to his 
left. Barlow was on that flank, and had a lively appre- 
ciation of the danger attending the movement. He 
therefore moved one brigade on his left by the flank, 
ready to form line at once, should his left be threatened. 
There was no trouble until about three o'clock in the 
afternoon of the 22d, when Barlow's left was thrown 
into confusion by an attack of the enemy, who had pene- 
trated through the gap between the Second and Sixth 
Corps. The giving way of his left, and consequent ad- 
vance of the enemy, forced Barlow's whole division hastily 
back to its original position. The enemy burst upon him 
just as his line was reestablished, but was met so vigor- 
ously by Miles that the attack here was almost imme- 
diately abandoned. 

The enemy now pushed down the line, striking the 
other divisions in turn as their left flanks were exposed, 
and attacking also in front, until the entire line had been 
thrown back on its original ground, with a loss of several 
hundred prisoners and four guns the latter belonging to 
McKnight's Pennsylvania Battery, on Gibbon's front. 
McKnight made a brave effort to save his guns, and to 
recapture them, but the enemy succeeded in running the 
guns over the broken parapet and drawing them off. 
The recapture of these guns was earnestly desired, none 
ever having been lost by the corps up to that time, ex- 
cepting one of Arnold's Battery at the Po. General 
Gibbon offered to General Pierce (commanding a brigade 
in the Second Division, on whose line the guns were 
taken) all the assistance he might require ; but that offi- 


cer was of the opinion that the task was almost hopeless, 
and no determined effort was made. 

For some reason, the loss of brigade and regimental 
commanders had been exceptionally great in the Second 
Corps, and, though we have not the data for comparison, 
we are confident that no other corps was nearly so un- 
fortunate in this respect. 

General Meade issued orders for Birney and Wright 
to attack at half past three on the morning of the 23d ; 
subsequently changing the hour to seven o'clock, he took 
post at the Sixth Corps headquarters in the morning. 
How far Wright moved we have never learned, but Bar- 
low's skirmishers were advanced far enough to show that 
the enemy was behind rifle-pits, " as full as they could be 
got " ; and upon hearing this, General Meade counter- 
manded the order for the attack. 

By the 27th General Hancock, though still suffering, 
was so far recovered as to permit him to resume com- 

On the night of the llth of July the Second Corps 
vacated its breastworks, and massed near the Williams 
house, and on the following day went into camp in rear 
of the Fifth Corps, General Hancock fixing his head- 
quarters in the yard of the shot-riddled building, on the 
Norfolk road, known as the " deserted house." 

The Sixth Corps had been sent to Washington on the 
9th, to meet Early's movements in that direction. The 
narrow escape of Washington on this occasion deter- 
mined General Grant to recommend the consolidation of 
the four departments near Washington into one, to be 
commanded by an officer who could be trusted in all 
emergencies. The concentration of troops in the Yalley 
rendered that an important command, and as it was under- 


stood that General Meade was not averse to a more inde- 
pendent command than that of the Army of the Potomac, 
it was contemplated to transfer him to the Shenandoah. 
General Hancock was to succeed to the Army of the 
Potomac, and General Gibbon to the Second Corps. 
Action was delayed in the matter, but after General 
Sheridan's first successes the project was renewed (the 
President giving his assent), at Hampton Roads; but 
when the time had arrived to put the intent into execu- 
tion, Mr. Lincoln thought a change would be unwise, 
while Sheridan (who had just won a battle) was doing 
" so well." General Hancock did not take any part in 
this matter, although informed of it by General Meade, 
nor did he express himself upon it. 

On July 23d General Birney gave up his division 
(Third, Second Corps), to take command of the Tenth 
Army Corps, in the Army of the James, to which he 
had been assigned, on the recommendation of Generals 
Meade and Hancock, among others. He had rendered 
marked service during the campaign, service which was 
generously and freely recognized by General Hancock. 
Birney and Mott represented the remains of the gallant 
old Third Corps, which had won such distinction under 
Heintzelman, Hooker, Phil Kearney, Sickles, Berry, and 
other distinguished commanders. This corps deserves 
special credit for its conduct at Chancellorville and Get- 

The losses of the Second Corps from the crossing of 
the James until July 26th were very heavy, as will be 
seen from the following table taken from General Han- 
cock's official report : * 

* The number, being more than six thousand men, amounted to nearly 
one fourth the entire loss of the corps during the war. 








J> , 

i 1 







Corps Hdqrs 











Art'y Brigade 

1st Division 

2d Division . 

3d Division 








* The casualties of the Eighth Ohio Volunteers and First Delaware Vol- 
unteers are not included in the above table. 


Petersburg The Enemy's Defenses A Siege undertaken Construction of 
Earthworks An Unfortunate Mining Experiment General Hancock's 
Expedition to destroy the Railroads north of Richmond Combined 
Operations of Infantry and Cavalry at Deep Bottom Gallant Charge 
of Sheridan's Cavalry Hancock returns with his Command to Peters- 

GENERAL Lee's lines of defense had been strengthening 
every day, and on the 1st of July were deemed impreg- 
nable, the Union engineers declaring that to take them 
by assault was utterly impracticable. A chain of redans, 
infantry curtains of bold construction, and rifle-pits swept 
clear round his position, while every approach was ob- 
structed by abatis, stakes, and other obstacles. Rich- 
mond was similarly defended. 

After two weeks of unavailing effort to carry the de- 
fenses of Petersburg by strategy and assault, it was mani- 
fest that they could only be reduced by regular siege. 

A vast system of earthworks was constructed, which 
by the end of July were in condition to begin operations 
against the enemy, either by assault or by flanking the 
Confederate lines. Underground approaches to the lines 
of the enemy, and even under some points thereof, were 
dug, and it was resolved to make an assault in front of 
Burnside's position, parts of which were but one hundred 
and fifty yards from the enemy's front. A fort of the 
enemy projected beyond his average front, and Burnside, 


on his own responsibility, had run an underground ap- 
proach, starting from a ravine out of sight of the enemy, 
and laid a mine under this work. It was intended to ex- 
plode this mine, then open artillery fire, and make an 
assault upon the enemy through the chasm expected to 
be made by the explosion. The mine failed to explode 
the first time it was fired. Lieutenant Jacob Douty and 
Sergeant Henry Kees, of the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, 
bravely ventured in to ascertain the cause of failure, and, 
relighting the fuse, the mine exploded, tossing the fort 
and its garrison of 300 men into the air, and creating a 
chasm 150 feet long by 60 wide and 30 deep. As it was 
Burnside's mine, and in front of his position, the assault- 
ing column was taken from his corps. 

Burnside threw forward a division of colored troops, 
which advanced beyond the crater made by the explosion, 
charged, and was driven back into the crater, and there 
all were huddled together in confusion. All order was 
lost, and personal safety became the only impulse ; the 
enemy began to pour in upon them shot and shell ; and 
that hapless chasm became an appalling slaughter-house. 

The enemy made an assault, which, in sheer despera- 
tion, was repulsed, and then thousands began to dart out 
of this slaughter-pen, and race at topmost speed into their 
own lines. Our loss in this " miserable affair," as Grant 
called it, was 4,400 killed, wounded, and prisoners ; the 
enemy's 1,000, including the 300 blown up in the fort. 

These operations in front of Petersburg were very 
wearing to the men of the army. The weather was in- 
tensely hot, water difficult to procure, the dust was almost 
insufferable, especially to troops in motion, and the labor 
of mining and constructing earthworks was overpowering. 
On the afternoon of July 26th the Second Corps marched 


toward Deep Bottom, via Point of Rocks and Bermuda 
Hundred, in obedience to orders from General Grant. 
General Hancock's instructions were to move rapidly 
from Deep Bottom to Chapin's Bluff, and to take and 
hold a position which would prevent the enemy from 
crossing at that point ; while General Sheridan, with his 
cavalry, moved to the Virginia Central Kailroad, and op- 
erated toward Richmond. Beyond this, General Han- 
cock's movements were to be contingent upon General 
Sheridan's success, the main object being the destruction 
of the railroads north of Richmond, with the hope also of 
taking that city. 

There were two bridges over the James at Deep Bot- 
tom, the bridge heads being held by Foster's brigade of 
the Tenth Corps. Naturally, for the purposes indicated, 
the cavalry would cross by the lower bridge and the in- 
fantry by the upper. On arriving at General Foster's 
headquarters, however, General Hancock ascertained that 
the enemy had so hemmed in Foster at the upper bridge, 
and were so strongly fortified, that it was doubtful if 
an advance in that direction would be successful. After 
studying the situation, and obtaining General Meade's 
consent to the change, he (General Hancock) determined 
to throw his infantry across the lower bridge, turn the 
enemy's flank, while General Foster threatened the posi- 
tion in front, and let the cavalry pass out in that direction. 
The infantry commenced crossing the bridge, which was 
thickly covered with hay to prevent the tread of the men 
and horses being heard in the enemy's lines, between 2 
and 3 A. M. on the 27th, and was massed behind a belt 
of timber on the north bank near the bridge head. The 
cavalry followed immediately. Soon after daylight Gen- 
eral Hancock ordered an advance. On the right the 


skirmish line of the Third Division, consisting of the 
Ninety-ninth and One Hundred and Tenth Pennsylvania 
Volunteers, was thrown out toward the New Market and 
Malvern Hill road, and, having become briskly engaged 
with the enemy, it was found necessary to reenf orce it by 
the Seventy-third New York Volunteers. In the center, 
Barlow's skirmish line of Miles's brigade, composed of the 
One Hundred and Eighty-third Pennsylvania, Twenty- 
eighth Massachusetts, and Twenty-sixth Michigan Volun- 
teers, commanded by Colonel Lynch, One Hundred and 
Eighty-third Pennsylvania, and accompanied by General 
Miles in person, engaged the enemy. Miles, ever on the 
alert, seized the opportunity afforded by the ground, 
which partly protected and concealed his advance, and by 
skillful disposition succeeded in throwing his skirmish 
line upon the enemy's rifle-pits, which were weakly held 
at that point, drove him back, and captured four twenty- 
pounder guns with their caissons. The skirmishers of 
General Foster had joined in this advance. Gibbon's 
skirmishers had been thrown out toward Four Mile Run, 
and as the enemy fell back his division took the advance 
in pursuit. 

A battery, which opened fire on our right opposite 
General Mott, was speedily driven away by our artillery 
and Mott's skirmishers, and retreated by a cross road to 
the New Market and Long Bridge road. 

When our advance arrived at Bailey's Creek, the 
enemy was found posted in well-constructed earthworks, 
with abatis, apparently well manned, in a position of 
unusual natural strength, the creek itself being an obsta- 
cle which could not well be passed by a line of battle, 
and the intervening ground being perfectly open to the 
enemy's fire. A close examination established the fact 


that the chance of a successful assault was doubtful, and 
an attempt was made to turn the position. 

In the mean time the cavalry under General Sheridan 
moved over to the New Market and Long Bridge road, 
in the direction of Malvern Hill, gaining, by spirited 
charges, some high ground on our right, the possession of 
which, it was hoped, would be advantageous ; but it did 
not prove so, as it was discovered that the enemy's flank 
was sharply refused to the left at Flusser's mill. 

While Gibbon's division held the New Market and 
Malvern Hill road, Mott's and Barlow's divisions were 
thrown forward to the New Market and Long Bridge 
road, connecting with the cavalry. Barlow made a 
strong reconnoissance of the enemy's line, but failed in 
his purpose of uncovering his flank. 

During the day some of our gunboats, stationed in 
the James River, threw their immense shot and shell 
over our lines into the enemy's intrenchments. About 
3 P. M. General Grant visited the field, but General Han- 
cock did not meet him. Having examined the position, 
he left a note for the latter, in which he stated that he 
had ridden along the line for some distance, and did not 
see that much was likely to be done, but still desired the 
cavalry to pass out if possible, his intention being that it 
should raid on the enemy's communications. His infor- 
mation was that seven brigades of infantry and a small 
force of cavalry were opposed to General Hancock dur- 
ing the night of the 27th. 

The enemy received reinforcements from the south 
side of the river. Birge's brigade, Tenth Corps, of But- 
ler's Army, about twenty-six hundred men, reported to 
General Hancock early on the morning of the 28th, and 
relieved Gibbon's division from its advanced position on 


the New Market and Malvern Hill road. Gibbon then 
massed in rear of our line of battle, in reserve. General 
Sheridan was placed under General Hancock's orders, it 
having been decided that he should advance up the Cen- 
tral or Charles City road, if either could be opened. 

About 10 A. M., on the 27th, the following dispatch 
was received by General Hancock, sent by General 
Meade : 

" CITY POINT, 9.10 P. M., July 26th. 

" The position now occupied by Hancock would give 
Sheridan no protection in returning by the way of Bot- 
tom's Bridge. I do not want him to go, unless the 
enemy is driven into Chapin's Bluff or back to the city ; 
otherwise, he would be compelled to return north of the 
Chickahominy, and it would be two or three weeks before 
his cavalry would be fit for other service. 

" I do not want Hancock to attack intrenched lines ; 
but I do want him to remain another day, if he can, with 
the assistance of the cavalry, turn the enemy's position 
and drive him away. It looks to me as if the cavalry 
might move well out and get in rear of the enemy. 
(Signed) "U.S. GKANT, 

" Lieutenant- General" 

The enemy had been discovered moving in strong 
force to General Hancock's right as early as 8 A. M., and 
it was evident that he was assuming the offensive. The 
fire of our gunboats was directed upon the enemy by 
signals, and forced him to change his route of march. 
About 10 A. M. the enemy advanced against our cavalry, 
not only on the New Market and Long Bridge road, but 
also on the Charles City road. Gregg was forced in on 
the latter, with the loss of one gun, while Torbert was 


driven back on the cross road, connecting the roads 
leading by Baffin's house, and the led horses and artil- 
lery of the cavalry seemed almost in the grasp of the 
enemy, when General Sheridan, by a brilliant charge (his 
men dismounted), drove him back in confusion for over a 
mile, capturing several colors and about two hundred 
prisoners. The prisoners belonged to Kershaw's division 
of infantry. 

Gibbon's division had been hurried up to support 
General Sheridan, but the latter had disposed of the mat- 
ter before Gibbon's arrival. 

Anticipating now a more determined attack, General 
Hancock changed the disposition of the troops, taking a 
position along the New Market and Malvern Hill road, 
and posting artillery to prevent the enemy from cutting 
him off from the river. 

General Hancock received repeated dispatches inform- 
ing him that the enemy was concentrating against him, 
but no further demonstrations were made, save that our 
cavalry skirmishers were somewhat pressed. Generals 
Grant and Meade visited the line during the afternoon, 
and instructed General Hancock to send Mott's division 
that night to Petersburg, with instructions to report to 
General Ord, to relieve the Eighteenth Corps in the in- 
trenchments. General Hancock continued holding his 
position at Deep Bottom with the remaining divisions of 
his corps, Birge's brigade of the Tenth Corps, and the cav- 
alry, until the night of the 29th, when, having attracted to 
his front a large portion of Lee's army, it is supposed that 
General Grant concluded it to be a favorable time to as- 
sault the enemy's lines at Petersburg. General Hancock 
was now instructed to return to that point with the two 
divisions of his corps ; and, accordingly, soon after dark 


on the 29th, lie withdrew his entire command from Deep 
Bottom, Birge's brigade returning to the Tenth Corps, 
and General Sheridan crossing the Appomattox at Broad- 
way Landing, to carry out special instructions received by 
him from Lieutenant-General Grant. Hancock pushed 
on, throughout a most weary and trying night-march of 
upward of twenty miles, in which the energies of the 
troops were taxed almost beyond endurance, to the posi- 
tion held by the Ninth and Eighteenth Corps in front of 
Petersburg, arriving there on the morning of the 30th, in 
time to witness the explosion of the " mine." 

In the report of the operations at Deep Bottom by 
General Hancock, Colonel' Biles, Ninety-ninth Pennsyl- 
vania Volunteers, and Colonel Lynch, One Hundred and 
Eighty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, are specially men- 
tioned for good conduct. 

On the very day of the mine explosion General Grant 
ordered the cavalry and a corps of infantry to start on a 
new expedition a raid on the Weldon Kailroad. The 
Second Corps (" Hancock's cavalry," as the men then 
styled it) was the one designated. There was, however, 
a limit to the endurance of both men and horses, and it 
being represented by General Hancock that the corps 
was not in a condition to move at once on such service, 
and Gregg making a similar representation concerning his 
horses, the expedition was temporarily suspended. 


Deep Bottom again The Corps dispirited Obstacles to the Expedition 
Spirited Attack by Terry's Division Our Troops assaulted in Turn, 
and driven from their Works General Gregg's Brilliant Action at 
Deep Creek Near Approach to Richmond A Flag of Truce Re- 
turn of Hancock's Command to Petersburg Result of the Expedition 
Cutting the Weldon Railroad The Second Corps in the Advance 
Occupying the Old Works at Ream's Station Approach of the Enemy 
in Force, 

THE expedition to destroy the Weldon Railroad, to 
which allusion was made at the close of the last chapter, 
was intrusted by General Grant to other hands than 
was at first designed, and was eventually carried out with 

The Second Corps meanwhile remained at its camp 
in the neighborhood of the " deserted house," as a reserve 
in connection with the operations against Petersburg. 
During this time and until the 12th of August General 
Hancock was engaged in the duty of presiding over the 
court of inquiry, that had been ordered by the President 
to investigate the mine operation, which had resulted so 
unfortunately for the Union army. 

On the date last mentioned the corps was directed to 
move to City Point, the design being to send a second 
expedition to Deep Bottom, with the view of diverting 
Lee's attention to some extent from Petersburg, and thus 
enabling a more advantageous prosecution of the siege 
of that stronghold. 


The Second Corps bivouacked on the night of the 
12th at City Point, and on the 13th the embarkation 
commenced, General Hancock proceeding to Deep Bot- 
tom in a tug-boat, accompanied by General Ingalls, Chief 
Quartermaster of the Army of the Potomac, to arrange 
for disembarking the troops. The fleet which conveyed 
this expedition consisted of sixteen vessels, ocean and 
river steamers, some of them drawing thirteen feet of 
water. A good deal of miscalculation was made in the 
planning of this expedition, and it failed in its chief 
intention that of effecting a surprise of the enemy. 
General Birney, with the Tenth Corps, was already at 
Deep Bottom, where, after considerable delay, he was 
joined by the Second Corps, and the entire force immedi- 
ately went into action. 

On the 16th a fierce attack was made by General 
Birney, General Gregg (D. McM.), as a diversion, being 
ordered to push up the Charles City road with his cavalry 
and Miles's brigade. 

The assault was made by Terry's division, led with 
marked gallantry by General Terry in person, on a point 
just above Flusser's mills, driving the enemy out of his 
works, and capturing three colors and between two and 
three hundred prisoners. An attack was made on the 
enemy on Terry's right in the mean time by Brigadier- 
General Birney's division of colored troops and Craig's 
brigade of Mott's division. The men acquitted themselves 
brilliantly, Colonel Craig being unfortunately killed. 

At this point heavy reinforcements joined the ene- 
my, who assailed us in turn, dislodging our troops from 
their works. Meanwhile, Gregg and Miles were having a 
lively fight on the Charles City road at Deep Creek, over 
which stream Gregg charged in column of fours through 


a ravine, driving the enemy in all directions, and pursuing 
him at a gallop for a mile and a half. Colonel John 
Irvin Gregg, commanding a brigade in General D. Me. 
M. Gregg's division, which made the charge, was severe- 
ly wounded in this affair. An important incident in the 
occurrence was the killing of General John R. Cham- 
bliss, the officer in command of the enemy's forces. He 
was shot through the body while endeavoring to recall 
his men. On his person was found a valuable map of 
Richmond and its defenses. His body was sent to the 
rear and buried within our lines. 

Gregg and Miles now pushed on rapidly to within 
about six miles of Richmond, where they came upon in- 
trenchments, and, the enemy shortly appearing in strength, 
they were forced to return to Deep Creek. 

This brought the movement to August 17th. Con- 
tinuous skirmishing occurred on the following day, but no 
heavy fighting, and at noon of that day, with the consent 
of General Grant, a flag of truce in the hands of Major 
Mitchell, of General Hancock's staff, was sent into the 
enemy's lines, to propose a cessation of hostilities. Major 
Mitchell succeeded in getting his flag recognized, and a 
truce was arranged, during which the dead of both sides 
were removed from between the lines, the body of 
General Chambliss being exhumed and delivered to his 

On the morning of the 18th, General Barlow being 
obliged to relinquish the command of his division on ac- 
count of ill health, General N". A. Miles succeeded him. 
In the afternoon of this day General Birney was attacked 
by the enemy in force, the latter being handsomely re- 
pulsed. In the mean time General Hancock's expedition- 
ary force was being gradually reduced, orders from head- 


quarters requiring him to send portions of it back to 
Petersburg, and on the 20th he was ordered to withdraw 
his command from Deep Bottom, and return by Point of 
Rocks to its old camps in front of Petersburg. 

The casualties in the Second Corps attending this 
(second) expedition to Deep Bottom amounted in the ag- 
gregate to nine hundred and fifteen killed and wounded. 
The expedition was not as successful as had been hoped, 
but it caused General Lee to detach in the direction of the 
north side of the James a considerable force, thus weak- 
ening for the time his strength at Petersburg, and ena- 
bling General Grant to extend his left flank toward the 
Weldon Railroad. This road, as already stated, was an 
important avenue of Lee's communication with the South, 
and to cut it was General Grant's object. The expedi- 
tion for this latter purpose was intrusted to the charge of 
General Warren, who began his operations on the morn- 
ing of the 18th of August, while General Hancock was 
yet on the north side of the James. 

The desired object was handsomely accomplished, the 
Weldon Road being captured and held at Ream's Station, 
but on the day following this the right center of our line 
was suddenly attacked and cut by a powerful column, 
but rallied, and reinforcements fortunately coming up to 
General "Warren's aid, the position was regained and held, 
in spite of two other attacks, though with very large loss. 

Returning to the lines before Petersburg on the 
morning of August 21st, after a dreary and fatiguing 
night-march over terrible roads, General Hancock's men 
were allowed to remain in camp only long enough to 
make coffee. The First and Second Divisions were then 
ordered to the vicinity of the Strong house, to slash timber 
and complete the defensive line. Finally this command 


was ordered to move on to the Gurley house, in the rear 
of the Fifth Corps, at which position they bivouacked in 
the mud, General Hancock and his division commanders 
sleeping on the ground in the midst of a pouring rain. 

The next morning both divisions were placed on fa- 
tigue duty, repairing the roads. The First Division was 
now set to work completing the task which had been 
begun by General Warren of destroying the Weldon Rail- 
road, and on the afternoon of the following day had ac- 
complished this as far as Ream's Station, while the Second 
Division followed in support. Here slight intrench- 
ments existed, and these were now occupied by Miles's 
division. They were, however, badly constructed, both 
sides being exposed to an enfilading and reverse fire, 
while the salient had been thrown out beyond a deep cut 
in the railroad, which seemed to separate that part of the 
line from the rest by an almost impassable obstacle. In 
these imperfect works, as it turned out, the two smallest 
divisions of the Second Corps (about six thousand strong) 
aided by a part of General D. McM. Gregg's cavalry, dis- 
mounted, were to fight one of the sharpest engagements 
of the war against a force exceeding them nearly three 
times in. numbers. 

At about half past ten on the night of the 24th of 
August, General Hancock received the following dis- 
patch : 


" 8 P. M., August 24, 1864. 

" MAJOR-GENERAL HANCOCK, Commanding Second Corps : 
" Signal officers report large bodies of infantry pass- 
ing south from their intrenchments by the Halifax and 
Yaughan roads. They are probably destined to operate 
against General Warren or yourself, most probably against 


your operations. The Commanding General cautions you 
to look out for them. 

(Signed) "A. A. HUMPHREYS, 

" Major-General, Chief of Staff." 

To this dispatch General Hancock replied, requesting 
to know, if possible, the number of the enemy seen 
marching, and the time ; stating also, that if the enemy 
was undertaking an operation against him, he did not de- 
sire to separate his forces so far referring to the fact of 
his instructions directing him to destroy the railroad as far 
as Rowanty Creek, eight miles beyond Ream's Station.* 

At daylight on the 25th General Hancock directed 
Gregg to make a reconnoissance with part of his cavalry, 
to ascertain what was in his front. Meanwhile the work 
of tearing up the railroads was suspended. A squadron 
of cavalry, sent out by Gregg, reported on their return 
that they had driven in the enemy's pickets at two 
points on the Yaughan road without developing any ap- 
parent increase of strength. Accordingly the work of 
tearing up the railroad was pushed on, but had progressed 
but little, when our pickets were driven in by a sharp at- 
tack by the enemy, and Gibbon's division was withdrawn 
from this duty, and ordered back to take post in the works, 
where it occupied the left of our infantry line. Tele- 
graphic communication having been opened from army 
headquarters to Ream's Station, dispatches to and fro 
were sent by these means. At this time, however, Gen- 
eral Meade sent a dispatch to General Hancock by one of 
his staff officers, announcing that he had ordered Mott to 

* In reply to this dispatch, General Hancock was informed that the num- 
ber of the enemy seen marching out of their intrenchments was estimated 
at 8,000 or 10,000 ; the time of leaving their works about sunset. 


send all bis available force to Ream's Station, and to take 
a battery with him, the officer in command to report to 
General Hancock on his arrival. He also authorized 
General Hancock to exercise his judgment as to with- 
drawing his command and assuming position on the left 
and rear of Warren, or any other position he might select. 
To this dispatch General Hancock replied that he was 
already engaged and could not withdraw, and that night 
could only tell what would come forth. This dispatch, it 
will be seen, was sent by an aid, being dated at 1 p. M., 
August 25th, although the telegraph line had been opened 
and used by General Hancock as early as 11.45 A. M. As 
late as 2.40 p. M. General Meade sent another dispatch to 
General Hancock by a messenger, informing the latter 
that he had ordered Wilcox's division of the Ninth Corps 
to move forward to Hancock's support by the Jerusalem 
plank road, and remain on it at a point about five miles 
from Ream's Station until ordered up by General Han- 
cock. The dispatch closed as follows : 

" I hope you will be able to give the enemy a good 
thrashing. All I apprehend is his being able to interpose 
between you and Warren. You must look out for this. 
(Signed) " GEO. G. MEADE." 

In the mean time Miles's pickets, on the Dinwiddie 
road, near Ream's Station, had already been driven in by a 
vigorous attack by the enemy in some force. 

It was unfortunate that the reinforcements sent by 
General Meade were dispatched by way of the Jerusalem 
plank road, about ten miles around, and ordered to stop 
at a point five miles distant from General Hancock, when 
the open road along the railway, a distance of less than 
three miles, was available. It will also be remembered 


that General Hancock, with 6,000 infantry and 2,000 
cavalry, most of the latter on picket duty, was now to 
confront a force of about 18,000 of the enemy's infantry 
and cavalry.* 

*Some time after the battle of Ream's Station after the war had 
closed, in fact General Hancock was informed, by a Confederate officer 
who had the best means of knowing the facts, that their force consisted 
of about all the cavalry they had in the Army of Northern Virginia, 
and all they could draw from the Valley, commanded by General Wade 
Hampton ; also, three divisions of infantry of four brigades each under 
Lieutenant-General A. P. Hill, who commanded all of their forces en- 
gaged. These brigades were made up from different divisions of General 
Lee's army for the occasion, and consisted of all the troops they could spare 
from the Petersburg line. 


oApprcxrnnate position 
'- of Wacox' Division 

P:LA:N or 

at ; 1 1 u 1 aiear 


Aug, 25th, 1864. 


Ream's Station General Hancock's Preparations for the Fight Attack on 
the Works Capture of two Union Batteries by the Enemy Demoral- 
ization of our Men Raw Recruits, Substitutes, and " Three-months' " 
Men General Hancock's Horse shot under Him Perilous State of 
Affairs A Battery recaptured The Enemy driven back by Miles 
Complete Demoralization of Gibbon's Division Depression of General 
Hancock Withdrawal of the Union Army. 

IN answer to the dispatch from General Meade, Gen- 
eral Hancock replied as follows : 


"August 25, 1864, 4.15 P. M. 

"GENERAL MEADE: I have just received your dis- 
patch by Captain Rosecrantz. I fear it will be too late to 
have Wilcox come for any practical purposes, as he is be- 
tween four and five miles off now ; still, I shall order up 
his division. Had the division come down the railroad, 
it would have been here in time. I desire to know, as 
soon as possible, whether you wish me to retire from this 
station to-night, in case we get through safe. 
(Signed) W. S. HANCOCK, 

" Major- General" 

In the mean time General Hancock sent a staff officer 
to order up Wilcox's division. While the occurrences 
just described had taken place, artillery had been posted 
by the Confederate General Hill to attack our intrench- 


ments at Ream's Station in reverse, and a heavy fire was 
opened by those batteries. After about fifteen minutes 
of artillery fire, the enemy assaulted Miles's lines, where a 
break occurred, this point being held by three New York 
regiments, largely made up of substitutes and new re- 

In describing these w r orks, it will be remembered, 
mention was made of the salient which was separated 
from the remainder of the line by a deep cut in the rail- 
road ; in this salient had been placed Brown's Rhode 
Island Battery and Sleeper's Massachusetts Battery, and, 
as a reserve, a small brigade of the Second Division. When 
the break in our lines took place, the two batteries men- 
tioned fell into the enemy's hands, after having been gal- 
lantly served until the last moment. Murphy's brigade of 
the Second Division was driven out, but the other brigade 
(Rugg's) was captured almost en masse. Another bat- 
tery (McKnight's), stationed to the right and rear of the 
break, was also captured, after doing good execution. The 
faulty construction of this part of the line exposed Gib- 
bon's division to a musketry fire in reverse, and, though 
ordered forward to retake our line, at the first fire from 
the enemy our men retired ingloriously to the breast- 

General Hancock's horse was shot under him here 
while he was endeavoring to remedy this unfortunate 
state of affairs. In fact, at this juncture, only the most 
extraordinary efforts on the part of General Hancock, as- 
sisted by Generals D. McM. Gregg and Miles, prevented 
the disaster from assuming the most serious proportions. 
Miles rallied a portion of his own regiment, the Sixty-first 
Volunteers, and succeeded in recapturing McKnight's 
battery and a considerable portion of the line, his small 


attacking force being reorganized, as it became dissipated, 
by parties collected by Generals Hancock and Miles and 
their staff officers. General Hancock is described as hav- 
ing exposed himself much more than the humblest soldier 
in his command, in his efforts to restore the fortunes of 
the day ; not only was his horse shot under him, but an- 
other ball cut his bridle rein in two, and his corps flag, 
which always followed him closely, was pierced by five 
balls, while another struck the staff. One of his staff 
officers, Captain Brownson, Commissary of Musters, here- 
tofore creditably mentioned, was now mortally wounded 
while conducting some men he had rallied to the front. 
He was a brave and valuable young officer. This at- 
tack, which threatened to cut the road in rear of Miles's 
position, was checked by a heavy flank fire from Gregg's 
cavalry on our extreme left, enabling Gibbon to reestab- 
lish his line in time to cover the endangered road. 

The conspicuous services which were rendered by 
General D. McM. Gregg with his command and one reg- 
iment of Spear's cavalry, during this day and particularly 
at this point, can not be overestimated. He checked 
the pursuit of Gibbon's men, and saved that portion of 
our line from an overwhelming disaster. 

A new line was at length established, and General 
Hancock confined his further efforts to holding this posi- 
tion. General Wilcox had not come up, and it was de- 
cided not to resume the offensive. 

This was the first occasion during the war when Gen- 
eral Hancock experienced the bitterness of defeat. Never 
before had he seen his corps fail to respond to the ut- 
most when he had called upon them personally for a su- 
preme effort. He could no longer conceal from himself 
that his once mighty corps retained but the shadow of its 


former strength and vigor. Struck to the heart by these 
new impressions, he rode up to one of his staff, covered 
with dust and begrimed with powder and smoke, and 
placing his hand on the officer's shoulder said, " Colonel, 
I don't care to die, but I pray to God I may never leave 
this field." 

Darkness was now fast closing in. Still no reenforce- 
ments had arrived, and as the position was untenable, un- 
less the works could be retaken, General Hancock gave 
orders for withdrawal from the field. Previous to this, 
however, he sent for his three division commanders, and 
asked each one if he could retake the lines he had lost. 
Miles replied he could, that he had already retaken a 
part ; Gregg said he could retake his without difficulty, 
as it was a mere cover to General Gibbon's flank ; but 
General Gibbon stated that his division was so shattered 
and dispersed that he could not retake his line. General 
Hancock then directed that as soon as it was dark the 
withdrawal should commence, and this was successfully 
accomplished. General Hancock sent his adjutant-gen- 
eral, General Francis A. Walker, to convey orders to the 
troops, but General Walker rode into the enemy's lines 
and was captured. It was learned from him after his 
release that the enemy left the field at the same time with 
our force, fell back six miles, and encamped. 

The losses of the two divisions of the Second Corps 
engaged in the battle of Beam's Station amounted in the 
aggregate to 2,198 killed and wounded, about equally di- 
vided between Gibbon's and Miles's divisions. 

The following dispatch is pertinent at this point : 


"August 25th, 1864, 11 P.M. 

" DEAR GENERAL : No one sympathizes with you 


more than I do in the misfortunes of this evening. 
McEntee gave me such a good account of affairs up to 
the time he left, and it was then so late, I deferred going 
to you as I had intended. If I had had any doubt of your 
ability to hold your lines from a direct attack, I would 
have sent Wilcox with others down the railroad ; but my 
anxiety was about your rear, and my apprehensions were 
that they would either move around your left or inter- 
pose between you and Warren. To meet the first contin- 
gency I sent Wilcox down the plank road ; for the second, 
I held Crawford and White. I thought it likely, not 
trying you, they might attack Warren, and wished to 
leave him until the last moment some reserves. I am 
satisfied you and your command have done all in your 
power, and, though you have met with a reverse, the 
honor and escutcheon of the Old Second are as bright 
as ever, and will on some future occasion prove that it is 
only when enormous odds are brought against them that 
they can be swerved. Don't let this matter worry you, 
because you have given me every satisfaction. 

" Truly yours, GEORGE G. MEADE, 

(Signed) " Major- General Commanding. 

" To MAJOR-GENERAL HANCOCK, Commanding Second Corps." 

It is no small proof of General Hancock's military 
skill that he was able to extricate himself from a position 
in which destruction seemed almost inevitable, and not 
only this, but that he should have inflicted such punish- 
ment upon the overwhelming forces of his adversary as 
to make it almost a drawn battle, which is shown by the 
fact that the enemy left the field immediately after the 
Union forces retired. 


Battle of Boydton Road Hampton's "Beef" Raid Movement on the 
South Side Railroad General Grant's Orders Grant and Meade on 
the Field The Enemy open Fire Sharp Artillery Practice Attack by 
the Enemy in Force Repulse of Pierce's Brigade A Dangerous Situ- 
ation Masterly Movement by General Hancock Brilliant Defeat of 
the Enemy Savage Flank Attack by Wade Hampton's Cavalry No 
Reinforcements Short of Ammunition General Hancock's Embar- 
rassing Situation He concludes to withdraw General Hancock's Re- 
portReturn to Petersburg. 

ON the day after the battle of Ream's Station, one of 
the two divisions engaged in that fight was massed near 
the Jones house, and the other at the Avery house. 
Mott's division still remained in the intrenchments be- 
fore Petersburg. Everything continued quiet up to the 
beginning of September, excepting such skirmishing as 
happened along the picket lines of the two armies, and in 
which but little advantage remained to either side. 

On the 16th of September occurred the famous raid 
of Hampton's cavalry to our rear at Coggin's Point, re- 
sulting in the capture of the beef herd of our army, con- 
sisting of 2,500 cattle. For days afterward the enemy's 
pickets were very facetious on the subject of beef, as, in- 
deed, they had a right to be. 

On the night of September 24th the First and Second 
Divisions, Second Corps, relieved the Tenth Corps in the 
intrenchments from the right of Mott's division to the 



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of 43 

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XV . 


w& x < 



=] U.8.FOPCES 



Appomattox, and on the night of the 30th of September 
the latter division was drawn out of the works, leaving 
the First and Second Divisions to cover the entire space 
of over three miles from beyond the plank road to the 

~No operations of importance occurred until the 21st 
of October, when General Hancock was informed that 
Lieutenant-General Grant desired a formidable movement 
made with a view of seizing and holding the South Side 

On the morning of the 25th the Second and Third 
Divisions were massed ready to move, General Egan being 
in command of the Second Division, and General Smythe 
of his brigade. In order that the nature of the movement 
proposed by the Lieutenant-General may be clearly under- 
stood, so much of the order as elucidates this is here 
given : 

" On the afternoon of the 26th inst. (Wednesday), 
Major-General Hancock, commanding Second Corps, will 
move the divisions of his corps, now in reserve, to the 
Yaughan road just outside the line of rear intrenchments. 
They will take routes well to the rear, so as to avoid the 
observation of the enemy, and every precaution will be 
taken during the night to conceal the movement. At 2 
p. M. of the 27th General Hancock will move by the 
Vaughan road across Hatcher's Run, pass by Dabney's 
mills, and "Wilson & Arnold's steam saw-mill, on the 
Boydton plank road, across the open country to the Clai- 
borne road, near its intersection with the White Oak 
road, and, recrossing Hatcher's Run near the Claiborne 
road bridge, will take the road running northeast from the 
vicinity of the bridge to the South Side Railroad, and en- 
deavor to seize a commanding position. General Gregg's 


cavalry will form a part of General Hancock's command, 
and will move on his left. General Hancock will proba- 
bly be able to reach the Boydton plank road by the time 
General Parke attacks the enemy's right between Clay- 
pole's and Hatcher's Run. 

" General Gregg will concentrate his cavalry on the 
afternoon of the 26th inst. (Wednesday) at some point to- 
ward the left, convenient for crossing Hatcher's Run by 
the first route below that used by Hancock's infantry, and 
which shall not disclose the movement to the observation of 
the enemy. Every precaution will be taken to conceal 
the movement. His pickets from the vicinity of the 
plank road westward will be relieved in time to accom- 
pany him on the morning of the 27th. Upon concentrat- 
ing his command, he will report to Major-General Han- 

" General Gregg will move on the morning of the 
27th, not later than two o'clock, across Hatcher's Run below 
the Second Corps, and move on the left of the infantry, 
probably using the Quaker road as far as the Boydton 
plank. His route must be governed by that of the Sec- 
ond Corps. 

"Major-General Parke, commanding Ninth Corps, 
will move at such hour on the morning of the 27th as 
will enable him to take the right of the enemy's infantry, 
between Hatcher's Run and their new works at Hawke's 
and Dabney's, at the dawn of day. It is probable that 
the enemy's line of intrenchments is incomplete at that 
point, and the Commanding General expects, by a secret 
and sudden movement, to surprise them and carry their 
half-formed works. General Parke will therefore move 
and attack vigorously at the time named, not later than 
half past five, and, if successful, will follow up the enemy 


closely, turning toward the right. Should he not break 
the enemy's line, General Parke will remain confronting 
them until the operations on the left draw off the enemy. 

" Major-General Warren, commanding Fifth Corps, 
will, if practicable, move simultaneously with the Ninth 
Corps, and proceed to the crossing of Hatcher's Kun below 
the plank road bridge, from which point he will support 
the Ninth Corps, and, if the attack is successful, follow up 
the enemy on the right of the Ninth Corps. 

" Should General Parke fail to break the enemy's line, 
General Warren will cross Hatcher's Run and endeavor 
to turn the enemy's right by recrossing at the first prac- 
ticable point above the Boydton plank road, keeping on 
the right of Hancock. He will then turn toward the 
plank road and open the plank road bridge." 

On the afternoon of the 26th the two divisions, Mott's 
and Egan's, numbering between 6,000 and 7,000 men, 
moved out along the line of intrenchments to the Weldon 
Railroad, bivouacking near Fort Du Chesne. The enemy's 
videttes were encountered on the Yaughan road, but did 
not contest our advance. Egan advanced so energeti- 
cally that by daylight he was ready to attempt the cross- 
ing of Hatcher's Run. Smythe's brigade was deployed, 
and advanced in fine style, carrying the works at a run. 

As soon as Egan's division had crossed the stream, he 
pushed forward to Dabney's mill. Mott followed the 
Yaughan road for a mile or so, and then marched by a 
cross road to Dabney's mill. Gregg had crossed Hatch- 
er's Run without difficulty, and the sound of his guns 
was now heard on the left, growing more and more dis- 
tinct. The infantry now pushed rapidly on toward the 
Boydton road, arriving in sight of it just as the rear 
of the enemy's wagon train was crossing the bridge over 


Hatcher's Run at Burgess's mill. The enemy at once 
opened fire upon Hancock's column with a section of 
artillery from the hill, on the south side of the run, near 
Burgess's tavern. Their fire was speedily silenced, how- 
ever, by Beck's battery. General Hancock did not con- 
sider it prudent to continue his march to the White 
Oak road while any of the enemy remained south of the 
run, and therefore ordered Egan to move toward the 
bridge and drive them over it. Gregg was now coming 
up by the Quaker road, and one of his brigades was 
sent forward to relieve Egan, while Mott was directed to 
advance toward White Oak road bridge. 

Before his column was well under way, however, 
General Hancock received an order from General Meade 
in person to halt at the plank road, Generals Grant and 
Meade having then arrived upon the field. The latter 
informed General Hancock that Crawford's division, 
Fifth Corps, was working its way up the run, and re- 
quested General Hancock to extend his line to the right, 
in order to make the desired connection with Crawford's 
troops. The change of orders was owing to the Fifth 
and Ninth Corps not having broken through the enemy's 
lines, as originally designed in the programme laid out 
for the movement. General Grant determined to end 
this operation there. 

Accordingly two brigades of Egan's division were de- 
ployed on the right of the plank road, the line after- 
ward extending further to the right by the deployment 
of two regiments, but without meeting Crawford's troops, 
which were afterward discovered to be about three 
fourths of a mile from the extreme right of Hancock's 
line. Meanwhile the enemy was showing considerable 
activity in the front and on the left. Egan drove their 


dismounted cavalry across the run by a charge of Smythe's 
brigade, which was very handsomely made, capturing one 
gun. Yery soon afterward a vigorous artillery fire was 
opened upon Egan from the heights on the north bank of 
the run and an enfilading fire from a battery on his left, 
which had crossed the stream at the White Oak bridge. 
It was impracticable to capture or drive off the enemy, 
but Beck, with four of his guns, maintained an unequal 
contest with it most gallantly, until relieved by Granger's 
Tenth Massachusetts Battery. 

As soon as General Hancock had learned the location 
of Crawford's division, Generals Grant and Meade left 
the field, the latter expressing a desire that General Han- 
cock should hold his position until the following morn- 
ing, when he was to retire by the same road on which he 
had come. 

Sharp firing on the right, opposite Pierce's brigade, 
now excited General Hancock's apprehension, and, two 
regiments having been sent into the woods to ascertain 
the cause, a large force of the enemy was discovered. It 
had been sent by Lee, under the immediate command 
of General Heth, to meet General Hancock's column, 
which was threatening his communication. A part of this 
force had crossed the run between Crawford and Han- 
cock, and marched by a wood road through a dense forest 
toward the Boydton plank road. Pierce's two regiments 
were at once overrun by numbers, and fell back in con- 
fusion upon the remainder of the brigade, closely fol- 
lowed by the enemy, whose force consisted of three 
brigades. The result of this was that the brigade was 
obliged to fall back to the plank road before it could re- 
form. This movement of the enemy brought them in 
close view of the clearing in the angle between the plank 


road and the line of march of the Second Corps, which 
was filled with ambulances, led horses, artillery, and all 
the impedimenta generally found in the rear of an army, 
promising an easy and valuable capture. Fortunately De 
Trobriand's brigade of Mott's division was so placed as to 
be able to open fire upon the enemy immediately, and 
Koder's battery extricated itself from the mass of ambu- 
lances, wagons, loose horses, etc., came into battery, and 
opened fire. Smith's brigade of Gregg's cavalry was dis- 
mounted, and moved up to aid De Trobriand. Kerwin's 
brigade, also dismounted, came into line on the left. In 
the mean time, however, the enemy found themselves 
suddenly attacked in the rear, the result of a masterly 
movement under direct orders of General Hancock. At 
the first sound of the enemy's attack on Pierce, he had 
sent his aide-de-camp, Major Mitchell, to General Egan, 
to direct him to abandon the assault against the heights 
on the north bank of the stream, and to face about and 
assail the enemy with his whole force. When Major 
Mitchell reached General Egan, he found that that officer 
was already in motion to attack the force of the enemy in 
his rear. The latter, being entirely oblivious of the pres- 
ence of Egan's troops, were struck with amazement when 
he swept down upon their flank with Smythe's and Wil- 
lett's brigades of his own division, and McAllister's bri- 
gade of Mott's division. The attack was made with such 
irresistible force that the enemy were driven in great 
confusion from the field, leaving two colors and nearly 
one thousand prisoners, besides the guns which had been 
lost at the first advance upon Pierce. When Major Mit- 
chell attempted to return to General Hancock after hav- 
ing delivered his message to General Egan, he found the 
enemy in possession of the Boydton plank road, where- 


upon, procuring tlie Thirty-sixth Wisconsin Volunteers 
from Rugg's brigade of the Second Division, Major 
Mitchell advanced against the enemy, and drove them 
from the road, capturing about two hundred prisoners 
and one color. 

General Egan's attack was followed up immediately 
by General Hancock with De Trobriand's brigade of 
Mott's division and Kerwin's brigade of dismounted cav- 
alry, thus placing the enemy between two fires and add- 
ing to his confusion and loss. 

In the mean time, and nearly simultaneously with the 
enemy's attack on Pierce, they commenced pressing heav- 
ily against our left, where Mott's skirmishers became 
sharply engaged, and a number of men and several valua- 
ble officers were lost. Indeed, hardly had Egan succeeded 
in his attack, when General Hancock was obliged to send 
all of the dismounted cavalry back to General Gregg, who 
was attacked by five brigades of cavalry under General 
Wade Hampton. Gregg met his attack with great reso- 
lution, and succeeded in repelling Hampton, although he 
did not effect this until after dark. 

One of Gregg's regiments, the First Maine Cavalry, 
was under orders to proceed home to be mustered out of 
service, but went into action voluntarily and participated 
in Hampton's repulse. 

By this time the situation was rather mixed. The 
enemy were in force in our front, and their artillery was 
firing upon us from three directions in fact, from all di- 
rections, excepting the narrow road on which the corps 
had marched from Dabney's mill and the Quaker road, 
and Hampton had pushed so far up the plank road in our 
rear that his shot passed entirely over Gregg's line and 
into our front line of infantry, which was engaged in an 


opposite direction. Renewed efforts were made at this 
time to reach Crawford's right, by extending our skirmish 
line, but without success. Captain Harry Bingham, sent 
to communicate with General Warren or Crawford, was 
captured by the enemy, and as, strange to say, the fire at 
Boydton road was not heard by General Warren, owing 
to the dense wood intervening and the skirmishing on his 
own front, the chance for reinforcement was slim. 

General Hancock was now informed by dispatch from 
General Meade that the signal officer reported the enemy 
concentrating against him, but that his orders to remain 
until the following morning were unchanged. General 
Meade, of course, did not then know of the battle which 
had taken place as soon as he left the field. This ques- 
tion, whether to remain upon the field until morning or 
withdraw during the night, now appealed to General 
Hancock's judgment and soldierly instinct with great 
force. One element which entered materially into this 
question was the fact that Hancock had moved in the 
morning by order without his reserve ammunition, which 
had been directed by General Meade to be placed on pack 
mules, and to await the movements of the Ninth and Fifth 
Corps, and then to be sent to General Hancock at the South 
Side Railroad. The conflict of the day had so drained the 
quantity of ammunition on hand as to seriously cripple 
the troops, this being particularly the case with the cavalry 
and artillery. The only connection with the main body of 
the army was by a narrow wood road to Dabney's mill, 
and this was not only seriously threatened by the enemy, 
but the rain was rapidly rendering it almost impassable, 
so that already it became a question of doubt whether the 
ammunition, which was thirteen miles in the rear, could 
be brought up and issued in time for a fight in the morning. 


General Meade now sent a dispatch to General Han- 
cock, authorizing him to withdraw during the night, if he 
thought proper to do so, and informed him that Ayres's 
division of the Fifth Corps had been sent to his support, 
and was halted for the night at Armstrong's mill ; also 
that, if he (General Hancock) could attack successfully in 
the morning, with the assistance of Ayres's and Crawford's 
divisions, he desired him to do so. Of course these in- 
structions only served to add to General Hancock's em- 
barrassment, and to render him more reluctant to abandon 
his position ; but, the responsibility being put upon him, 
and the doubtful question as to the ammunition having 
to be taken into consideration, he determined at last upon 
withdrawal. General Meade, at a late hour of the night, 
sent word to General Hancock that he concurred in this 

General Hancock had at this time under his command 
the entire cavalry force of the Army of the Potomac (Gen- 
eral Sheridan had two thirds of the cavalry originally be- 
longing to the Army of the Potomac with him in the 
Shenandoah Yalley), and he considered the risk of sacri- 
ficing this body on the following morning (for want of 
ammunition) too great to be assumed, when such a disaster 
could be avoided by quitting the field that night. 

It is proper to state here that General Hancock's ad- 
vance at Boydton road was within three and a half miles 
of the bridge on the South Side Eailroad, which point 
could readily have been seized by Hancock's troops, but 
for the orders which he had received to suspend the 
movement. The battle of Boydton road occurred after 
General Hancock would have had ample time to have 
reached the South Side Eoad, had he not been halted to 
fight it when he was ; as matters turned out, he probably 


would have been overwhelmed, had he proceeded to the 
railroad, for the enemy, not being occupied by an attack 
of the Fifth and Ninth Corps, would have been free to 
have concentrated all their strength against him. 

General Hancock having decided to withdraw from 
the field, no time was lost in insuring the safe execution 
of the movement. At 10 p. M. the order was given for the 
withdrawal to commence, Mott moving first, Egan fol- 
lowing, but halting at Dabney's mill to protect the with- 
drawal of Crawford's division of "Warren's corps. He 
then joined Mott's division, which had massed and waited 
for him after crossing Hatcher's Run, when both divisions 
returned to the lines in front of Petersburg, October 28, 

Gregg marched off the field on the Quaker road about 
half past ten o'clock, and the pickets were withdrawn 
about 1 A. M. on the 28th. 

It has since been learned that the Confederates re- 
mained on the battle-field all night, and so increased 
their force that they would have attacked General Han- 
cock on the morning of the 28th with fifteen thousand 
infantry and all of Hampton's cavalry. 

In his official report of this battle, General Hancock 
personally acknowledged the services of his subordinates, 
particularly Brevet Major -General Mott and Brigadier- 
General Gregg, commanding the cavalry. He recom- 
mended General Egan for the appointment of brevet 
major-general, which was afterward made, for his distin- 
guished services and marked gallantry on this occasion. 
Major and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel "W. G. Mitchell, 
Senior Aide-de-Camp, was highly commended in General 
Hancock's report, reference therein being made to General 
Egan, who had spoken in high terms of his services and 


of his example to the troops, particularly for effecting, at 
the head of the Thirty-sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, Cap- 
tain Farwell commanding, the capture of about two hun- 
dred prisoners and one color. In continuation, General 
Hancock says : " I have had occasion to acknowledge the 
services of Major Mitchell in every action in which I 
have been engaged during the war. He always finds 
an opportunity for increasing his reputation for bravery 
and high soldierly qualities. I hope the brevet appoint- 
ment of colonel for which I have heretofore recommend- 
ed him may be conferred upon him." Colonel McAllister, 
Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, commanding a brigade ; 
Lieutenant C. H. Morgan, Assistant Inspector-General and 
Chief of Staff ; Lieutenant "W. B. Beck, Fifth United 
States Artillery; and many others, were mentioned in 
honorable terms. 

Although the general plan for seizing the South Side 
Railroad failed, the cause of failure being readily discern- 
ible, the battle of Boydton road goes down in history as a 
most brilliant engagement, conducted under specially diffi- 
cult and embarrassing circumstances. At the time it was 
planned, General Hancock was informed that a force of 
twenty thousand infantry would be given him for the op- 
eration, to be composed of troops from General Butler's 
army, in addition to those of his own corps, yet, when 
the official orders were issued, he found that he was to 
have only the two small divisions, Second and Third, of 
the Second Corps, as his force of infantry, with which 
to make the movement. 

The losses of General Hancock's command in this 
battle aggregated 1,482 killed, wounded, and missing. 

Hardly does the history of the war exhibit an instance 
of more brilliant generalship than that displayed by 


Hancock on this occasion ; the management of the action 
was most creditable to his skill and to the able handling 
of his troops in the very difficult combination of circum- 
stances amid which he was placed. His position was 
isolated, his force entirely unequal to that of the enemy, 
and the failure to reenf orce or even to supply his command 
with ammunition was to the last degree embarrassing. 
Nothing but consummate self-possession, rapid and com- 
prehensive combinations, and indomitable energy could 
have extricated his command. 


Hancock's Last Battle with the Second Corps His Popularity with his Men 
Retrospective General Hancock directed to raise a Corps of Veter- 
ans He Relinquishes his Command, and names his Successor His 
parting General Order No. 44 Order of General Humphreys on as- 
suming Command General Hancock ordered to Winchester, Va., to 
take Command of the Middle Military Division Assassination of Pres~ 
ident Lincoln General Hancock ordered to Washington He is 
charged with the Security of the Capital Lieutenant-General Grant's 
Official Report The case of Mrs. Surratt. 

THE engagement at the Boydton road was the last 
occasion on which General Hancock had the honor to di- 
rect in battle any part of the Second Army Corps. In 
connection with his command of this magnificent corps, 
one feature of the great popularity which General Han- 
cock enjoyed among his troops is explained by the na- 
ture of his official reports as a brigade, division, and 
corps commander, in the generous and complete descrip- 
tion therein supplied of the services of those who were 
under his command, and the liberal and complimentary 
notice of such officers and men as specially distinguished 

It is a fact that the many thousands of men who re- 
turned to civil life at the close of the war, who had fol- 
lowed Hancock through Williamsburg, Antietam, Fred- 
ericksburg, Chancellorville, Gettysburg, and across that 
great battle-field from the Rapidan to Petersburg when 


every step was taken in blood carried with them memo- 
ries that can never be effaced ; and that so long as he and 
they live, will he remain their ideal of a leader. 

A responsible writer in the " United Service Maga- 
zine," May, 1866, stated that the Second Corps embraced 
on its rolls the names of upward of 200,000 men ; that 
it lost 70,000 men in battle ; that it captured nearly, or 
quite, a hundred colors, and as many guns as any other 
corps ever took from the enemy, excluding those cap- 
tured at fortified cities and places ; that, at the first Fred- 
ericksburg, it lost 4,300 men, one third of the loss of the 
army ; at Antietam, 5,200 men, one third of the loss of 
the army ; at Gettysburg, 4,400 men ; and, in the cam- 
paign from the Eapidan to the surrender of Lee's army, 
about 38,000 men, being one third the entire loss. An 
additional and emphatic illustration of the terrible de- 
struction in this corps exists in the fact that, between 
May 3 and October 27, 1864, it lost thirty-seven brigade 
commanders, killed, wounded, and missing (there being 
only two of the latter), an average of about four brigade 
commanders to each brigade in the course of six months' 
fighting. [The Second Corps started with eleven bri- 
gades, and in a few days, on account of losses, was reduced 
to nine.] 

About the middle of November, 1864, General Han- 
cock desired to avail himself of a short leave of absence, 
as there were then no movements being made against the 
enemy ; but, in reply to an intimation to that effect, he 
was informed by General Meade that the Secretary of 
War had made a proposition to General Grant which 
might render a leave unnecessary. A subsequent in- 
terview with General Grant disclosed the fact that the 
Secretary of War had inquired whether the services of 


General Hancock could be spared for the winter, with a 
view of raising and organizing a corps of veterans from 
those soldiers who had served two years and had been 
honorably discharged. This proposition being made to 
General Hancock, he accepted it, and, being consulted as 
to his successor in command of the Second Corps, recom- 
mended for that position Major-General Humphreys, 
Chief of Staff of the Army of the Potomac. 

In taking leave of the Second Army Corps, General 
Hancock issued the following order : 


"November 26, 1864. 

" SOLDIERS OF THE SECOND CORPS : In obedience to in- 
structions which direct me to another field of duty, I 
transfer the command of this corps to Major-General A. 
A. Humphreys, United States Volunteers. 

" I desire at parting with you to express the regret I 
feel at the necessity which calls for our separation. 

" Intimately associated with you in the dangers, pri- 
vations, and glory which have fallen to your lot during 
the memorable campaign of the past two years, I now 
leave you with the warmest feelings of affection and es- 

" Since I have had the honor to serve with you, you 
have won the right to place upon your banners the his- 
toric names of ' Antietam,' i Fredericksburg,' * Chancellor- 
ville,' < Gettysburg,' < Wilderness,' <Po,' < Spottsylvania,' 
'North Anna,' 4 Cold Harbor,' 'Petersburg,' 'Ream's 
Station,' ' Boydton Road,' and many other contests. 

" The gallant bearing of the intrepid officers and men 
of the Second Corps, on the bloodiest fields of the war, 
the dauntless valor displayed by them in many brilliant 


assaults on the enemy's strongest positions, the great 
number of guns, colors, prisoners, and other trophies of 
war captured by them in many desperate combats, their 
unswerving devotion to duty, and heroic constancy under 
all the dangers and hardships which such campaigns en- 
tail, have won for them an imperishable renown and the 
grateful admiration of their countrymen. The story of 
the Second Corps will live in history, and to its officers 
and men will be ascribed the honor of having served 
their country with unsurpassed fidelity and courage. 

"Conscious that whatever military honor has fallen 
to me during my association with the Second Corps, has 
been won by the gallantry of the officers and soldiers 
that I have commanded, I feel that in parting from them 
I am severing the strongest ties of my military life. 

" The distinguished officer who succeeds me is en- 
titled to your entire confidence. His record assures you 
that, in the hour of battle, he will lead you to victory. 

" Major- General of Volunteers" 

We give also the order of General Humphreys in as- 
suming command of the Second Corps. 


"In compliance with, and by authority of orders 
from the headquarters of this army, I assume command 
of the Second Corps. 

" It is natural that I should feel some diffidence in 
succeeding to the command of so distinguished a soldier as 
Major-General Hancock. 

" I can only promise you that I shall try to do my 
duty, and preserve your reputation unsullied, relying 


upon you to sustain me by that skill and courage which 
you have so conspicuously displayed on so many fields. 

"Major-General of Volunteers" 

General Hancock arrived at Washington November 
27, 1864:, and at once began the enlistment and organi- 
zation of the First Yeteran Corps. There were many 
difficulties in the way, and it is doubtful if any other 
officer in the service would have succeeded as well as he 
did. In the first place, the number of honorably dis- 
charged men of the two years' service was much smaller 
than was counted on by the War Department, the greater 
number of them having returned to the field in other 
organizations. Particularly was this the case with officers. 
Great care was also necessary in the selection of officers 
from those who presented themselves for admission to 
the First Yeteran Corps. The State regulations control- 
ling " bounties " also interfered with enlistments in this 
organization, very small bounties being offered by the 
general Government. 

Although the enlistment resulted in securing about 
10,000 men, General Hancock (in view of the fact that 
the spring operations about the Potomac were about to 
commence) applied for orders returning him to the Sec- 
ond Corps in the field, and received the assent of the 
Secretary of War ; but late in February he was sent for 
by General Halleck, and asked to repair to Winchester, 
Yirginia, and take command of the Army of the Shen- 
andoah, in the Middle Military Division. General Sher- 
idan, who then held that command, was about mov- 
ing from Winchester with a . large force of cavalry, 
and it was not proposed to assign Genei'al Hancock per- 


manently to the command iintil the result of Sheridan's 
movements should be known. A conference ensued at 
the office of the Secretary of War, between the President, 
the Secretaries of War and State, Mr. Wilson, Chairman 
of the Senate Military Committee, and General Halleck, 
General Hancock being present. During this conference 
the Secretary of War promised that he would relieve the 
General from Winchester within ten days, but, there be- 
ing comparatively few troops there, if General Hancock 
took command at that point, the enemy would suppose 
his command was large. On this promise of the Secre- 
tary of War, the General consented to go, Mr. Stanton 
thanking him warmly for yielding. 

It was supposed at the war office at this time that the 
enemy designed a sudden movement up the "valley" 
during General Sheridan's absence, from the fact that 
Lee's cavalry was supposed to be picketing the Eappa- 
hannock, indicating a threat against Washington, similar 
to Early's movement of a previous date. General Hancock 
arrived at Winchester and relieved General Sheridan on 
Monday night, February 26, 1865, the latter officer start- 
ing on the following morning on his expedition down the 
" valley " with a large cavalry force. 

Mr. Stanton at once began sending troops to General 
Hancock, and in three weeks he had (taking the disposa- 
ble troops in his command and those sent to him) about 
30,000 men available for a movement. Being allowed to 
select his commanders to a certain extent, he gathered 
about him at Winchester those tried and trusty young 
officers, Egan, Brooke, Carroll, and others, each in com- 
mand of a powerful division. 

The Middle Military Division embraced at this time 
the Army of the Shenandoah, the Department of Wash- 


ington, General Augur commanding ; the Department of 
Maryland, commanded by General Lewis Wallace; the 
Department of Pennsylvania, Major-General Cadwallader 
commanding ; and the Department of West Yirginia. 

The returns, including the Army of the Shenandoah, 
showed a total of almost 100,000 men for duty within 
the limits of General Hancock's command. 

The latter now bent all his energies to organizing and 
equipping a force as powerful as possible from the mass 
of his command, and, without leaving any points uncov- 
ered, found himself able to move with about 25,000 in- 
fantry, 3,000 cavalry, and a proper complement of artillery. 

The following extract from a dispatch from the Sec- 
retary of War will show how General Hancock's labors 
were appreciated : 

" I am very much gratified by your energy in organ- 
izing and administering the military force of your im- 
portant command. Your dispatch of this evening to 
General Halleck vindicates my judgment in assigning you 
to that position, and shows that you could not in any other 
render service so valuable and urgent to the Government. 
I would be glad to have a detailed report of the force and 
its location, a thing I have never been able to procure. 
For what you have done already, you have the thanks of 
this department. 

(Signed) " EDWIN M. STANTON." 

It was arranged subsequently, and after the forcing of 
the lines at Petersburg, that, if Lee fell back on Lynch- 
burg, Hancock was to march his army against him at that 
point ; and, if Lee joined Joseph E. Johnston, Hancock's 
troops were to be sent to Sherman by shipping. The 


rapid march of events, however, rendered either of these 
movements unnecessary, and the only duty remaining to 
General Hancock in the "valley" was to force the sur- 
render and to receive the paroles of the partisan troops 
in that region. 

On the night of April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln, 
President of the United States, was assassinated in Ford's 
Theatre, Washington, D. C., by J. Wilkes Booth. On 
April 22d, orders were issued at Washington transferring 
General Hancock's headquarters to that city, and two 
days after his arrival there he received the following in- 
structions from the War Office, these being the orders 
which led to what connection General Hancock had with 
the trial of the conspirators against the President and 
the subsequent execution of some of them : 


" GENERAL : Your headquarters having been estab- 
lished in Washington, you will please consider yourself 
specially charged with the security of the Capital, the pub- 
lic archives, and the public property therein, and with the 
necessary protection to the President, the officers of the 
Government, and the loyal citizens. The following sub- 
jects are especially recommended to your attention. 

" 1st. The condition of the forts and defensive works. 

"2d. The organization, proper discipline, and man- 
agement of an adequate military force, to act as a mounted 
military police at all times, day and night, within the city, 
for the purpose of guarding against assassination, and of 
arresting offenders. 

" 3d. You are also directed to give special attention 
to the employment of your force in the arrest of the per- 
sons who were recently engaged in the murder of Presi- 


dent Lincoln, and the attempted assassination of the 
Secretary of State, taking all proper measures for their 
detection and to prevent their escape. 

" 4th. All other matters essential to the security and 
peace of your command. 

" In the absence of Lieutenant-General Grant you will 
report to the Secretary of War, daily, for any instructions 
he may have to give. 

" You will acknowledge the receipt of these instruc- 

" Your obedient servant, 
(Signed) " EDWIN M. STANTON, 

" Secretary of War. 

" MAJOR-GENERAL W. S. HANCOCK, Division Commander, 

The duties with which General Hancock was charged 
during the exciting period following Mr. Lincoln's death 
were perhaps not always agreeable. It is well known, to 
those conversant with the true condition of affairs, that 
for several days the Government really rested upon the 
shoulders of Mr. Stanton ; and that, in the exciting state 
of anxiety and doubt, almost amounting to bewilderment, 
his strong will dominated over all ; and, in calling Gen- 
eral Hancock to the Capital at that time, the Secretary 
gave the strongest proof of the high esteem in which that 
officer was held by him. 

At this point reference may be properly made to the 
following facts : The official report of Lieutenant-General 
Grant, made public in the fall of 1865, drew from General 
Hancock a letter, dated Baltimore, December 16, 1865, and 
addressed to Colonel T. S. Bowers, Assistant Adjutant- 
General, Washington, D. C., in which General Hancock 
took exception to Lieutenant-General Grant's report, alleg- 


ing that therein the Second Army Corps, and he as its com- 
mander, had not received exact justice in the relations of 
the battles and engagements in which they had been con- 
cerned. The letter was lengthy, and named in detail such 
battles and engagements, besides certain meritorious ser- 
vices of commanders and other officers, and drew from 
Lieutenant-General Grant a handsome response in acknowl- 
edgment and explanation, comprised in a letter from 
the Assistant Adjutant-General under date December 18, 
1865. In this communication it was explained that no 
intentional omission was made in Lieutenant-General 
Grant's report, its necessary limits comprehending the 
movements of armies instead of corps. This letter con- 
cluded as follows : " He (Lieutenant-General Grant) di- 
rects me to say that such omission arose from no lack of 
appreciation of the gallant services rendered by yourself 
and your command during that campaign services not 
surpassed by those of any corps in the Army of the 

It should be observed in this connection that, at the 
time when General Grant wrote his report, he had not 
received many of the subordinate reports from General 

The entire loss by casualties in the Second Corps 
from May 5, 1863, until October 28, 1864, aggregated 
28,520 men, of whom 3,932 were killed, 17,201 wounded, 
7,387 missing. 

Although General Hancock was in Washington in 
command of the Middle Military Division, comprising in 
all about 100,000 men, during the trial and execution of 
the prisoners charged with the assassination of President 
Lincoln, he was not a member of the military commission 
which tried Mrs. Surratt, nor had he anything whatever 


to do with her trial, nor any responsibility for the find- 
ing of the court, nor for the sentence imposed. 

The troops that guarded the prisoners, including Mrs. 
Surratt; were, of course, under General Hancock's com- 
mand, being a portion of the forces stationed within his 
division ; and when the orders for the execution were 
issued by the President of the United States, those or- 
ders were directed to General Hancock, as the highest 
officer present in command, according to invariable mili- 
tary usage when military sentences are to be executed. 
The orders for this execution were transmitted by Gen- 
eral Hancock through the proper channels to the gov- 
ernor of the military prison, General Hartranft, who had 
custody of the prisoners. A writ of habeas corpus was 
issued by Judge Wylie, of the United States District 
Court, in the case of Mrs. Surratt, returnable at 10 A. M. 
on the day of the execution. General Hancock formally 
transmitted the writ by the hands of the Secretary of 
War to the President of the United States for his 
'action. The President suspended the writ, and directed 
General Hancock, as military commander, to cause the 
executions to be proceeded with, as originally ordered. 
General Hancock, accompanied by the Attorney-General 
of the United States, appeared before Judge Wylie in 
the United States District Court, and returned the writ 
to the Judge, and the latter released him (Hancock) from 
attendance upon the court, and, for reasons assigned, de- 
clined to take any further action in the ease. The civil 
authorities being prohibited from further interference, the 
military were obliged to proceed under the orders of the 
President, Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Uni- 
ted States. Any different action would have been absurd 
and indefensible, as well as futile. Executive officers in 


military service are not responsible for the findings or acts 
of military courts, nor for illegal or unjust sentences, nor 
are civil executive officers. A sheriff is bound by his oath 
of office to execute the sentence of a court, whatever may 
be his private opinion of the justice of that sentence ; much 
less can a military officer refuse to execute legal the order 
of his superior. To hold General Hancock responsible in 
any particular for the death of Mrs. Surratt is an absurd- 
ity which no person familiar with law, either civil or mili- 
tary, will sustain. Indeed, it is in evidence from his 
very acts that General Hancock did all within his power 
with a view to saving Mrs. Surratt. Thinking it possi- 
ble that other writs or a reprieve might be issued, ad- 
dressed to him, he went to the arsenal where the pris- 
oners were confined, and remained there until the last 
moment. Not only this, but he stationed couriers at po- 
sitions along the streets leading from the White House 
to the arsenal, for the purpose of having conveyed to 
him instant intelligence if any favorable orders should be 
issued. No such orders were issued, and the executions 
proceeded under the direction of General Hartranft, 
governor of the prison, who had been appointed a spe- 
cial provost marshal general to attend the military com- 
mission, and execute its mandates and sentences. 

Early on the morning of the execution of Mrs. Sur- 
ratt, the daughter of the prisoner visited General Han- 
cock and asked his advice. He counseled her to repair 
to the Executive mansion and throw herself upon the 
mercy of the President ; and subsequently, after the return 
of the writ of habeas corpus, when it became evident 
that there was no hope of pardon or reprieve, he notified 
Miss Surratt of the fact. As Mrs. Surratt was a Roman 
Catholic, many persons supposed that the adherents to 


that faith would deeply sympathize with her unhappy 
fate, and experience a feeling of resentment against 
General Hancock on account of his nominal connection 
with her execution. Such an apprehension did great in- 
justice to the intelligence and fairness of the priesthood 
and laity of that church, assuming, as it did, that they 
would condemn a public official for fulfilling his public 
duty under the orders of his superiors. It is a fact that 
the priesthood and members of the Roman Catholic 
communion, from the archbishop down, attached no 
blame to General Hancock for the part he bore in the 
painful transaction in question. 

The Archbishop of Baltimore, at this time the highest 
Catholic official in the United States, gave every assurance 
that he had never censured General Hancock for the 
merely perfunctory part with which the latter was in- 
trusted in the Surratt tragedy. On the contrary, his 
Grace the Archbishop, Rev. T. B. Walter Mrs. Surratt' s 
spiritual adviser and other friends during this unhappy 
occasion, expressed their appreciation of the General's 
delicacy and kindness during the progress of the trial 
and execution. 

Thus much of statement in regard to the Surratt 
case would seem to be proper and pertinent in this place, 
in view of certain interested and unfounded accusations 
concerning the connection therewith of General Hancock. 


After the War Middle Military Department Headquarters at Baltimore 
General Hancock transferred to the Department of Missouri Indian 
Troubles General Hancock and the Cheyennes Indian Treachery and 
its Punishment General Hancock appointed to the Command of the 
Fifth Military District He proceeds to New Orleans The Reconstruc- 
tion Acts Order No. 40. 

THE Middle Military Division, of which General Han- 
cock was in command, having been discontinued, and 
the Middle Military Department established, he was ap- 
pointed to the latter, and assumed command July 30, 1865. 
At that time, or just after the close of the war, the de- 
partment contained a large number of troops, and it be- 
came a part of his duty to superintend and direct the 
mustering out of the volunteer service, which work was 
satisfactorily accomplished. 

His headquarters were in Baltimore, a city which all 
through the war had been in a chronic exasperated con- 
dition, the leading citizens sympathizing with the South. 
But so ably and judiciously did General Hancock adminis- 
ter the affairs of his command that much of this feeling 
was soon removed. He treated all questions with justice 
and impartiality, and won the respect and confidence of 
the majority of all classes of the citizens. His dignified 
presence, courtly manners, and wise and magnanimous 
administration of affairs did much to restore the era of 


confidence and kind feeling, and marked the General as 
one who was as skillful in promoting public interests 
in peace as he was brilliant and energetic in war. 

Orders from the War Department, dated August 6, 
1 866, released General Hancock from the military com- 
mand of the Middle Military Department and transferred 
him to that of the Department of Missouri, with his head- 
quarters at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. 

Sectional feeling was very bitter in Missouri at that 
time, and the public peace was threatened. It required 
all the wisdom, address, and personal magnetism of Gen- 
eral Hancock to repress the combative tendencies of the 
people during the election which occurred about this 
time, though he gave the whole weight of his influence 
to the civil authorities in their efforts to preserve the 
peace and maintain the law. In fact, it was at this time 
and under the peculiar difficulties which surrounded him, 
both in Maryland and in Missouri, that General Hancock 
began to be noted for the spirit of true patriotism, and the 
courageous adherence to the essence of constitutional law, 
which continued to characterize his connection with ad- 
ministrative authority thereafter. 

During the fall of 1866 and the ensuing winter, some 
of the Indian tribes inhabiting portions of Kansas and 
the Indian Territory (Department of Missouri), became 
restless and turbulent, and their relations to our Govern- 
ment demanded immediate adjustment. This was espe- 
cially true of the Cheyennes, and also of the Kiowas, 
Apaches of the plains, and Arrapahoes. The Cheyennes 
are a very warlike tribe, which at this time roamed at 
large between the Arkansas and Platte Eivers. This 
region was traversed by the main roads leading to Colo- 
rado and New Mexico, the intended route of the Kansas 


Pacific Railroad eastern division then in process of 
construction. Depredations were committed almost daily 
by the Indians, stages were stopped and robbed, settlers 
were despoiled on their farms, murdered, and burned on 
the funeral pyres of their destroyed houses, and trav- 
elers on the roads were murdered and mutilated, until 
matters came to such a pass that travel was suspended 
across that portion of the plains, except by stages car- 
rying strong guards of soldiers, or by trains with heavy 

The Indians made open threats to post commanders 
and others that, when the " grass grew " in the spring of 
1867, they would clear the country of the whites, and 
stop the progress of the Kansas Pacific Railroad. 

With a view to taking measures to avert a general In- 
dian war and massacre, General Hancock was directed 
(March 14, 1867) by Lieutenant-General Sherman to or- 
ganize a force out of the troops serving in his depart- 
ment, and approach to the country of the Cheyennes, 
Kiowas, and Arrapahoes, and notify them that there was 
to be war or peace ; and, if they preferred the latter, they 
must cease from their outrages upon travelers and their 
depredations against the white settlers. 

In compliance with these instructions, General Han- 
cock marched from Fort Riley, Kansas, March 26, 
186Y, with a force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, 
amounting to about fourteen hundred men. He reached 
Fort Lamed, Kansas, near the mouth of the Pawnee Fork 
and within a few miles of the Arkansas River, on April 
7, 1867. 

On the 12th of that month General Hancock held a 
council with some of the leading Cheyenne chiefs, at 
which he explained fully and explicitly the views and in- 


tentions of our Government toward the Indians. On the 
14th, two days later, General Hancock, for the purpose of 
again talking with the prominent chiefs at their village, 
moved with his command from Fort Earned to a point 
on the Pawnee Fork, situated about twenty -five miles 
above the post. An Indian village was near this point, 
and the command encamped within one mile and a half 
of it, the village being occupied by Cheyennes and a 
large band of Sioux. Stringent orders were given by 
the General that the Indians should not be disturbed 
either in their persons or property. The latter had, how- 
ever, resolved on war, and during the night of the 14th, 
although they had promised to meet the General in coun- 
cil on the following day, they abandoned their village. 
They hastened northward toward the Smoky Hill and 
Republican Rivers, attacked the mail stations on the 
Denver Road and working parties on the Kansas Paci- 
fic Railway, killing and wounding a number, running 
off stock, and committing other depredations. As soon 
as General Hancock learned that the Indians had aban- 
doned their village, he sent General Ouster after them 
with a force of cavalry, with orders to overtake, and, if 
possible, bring them back. General Ouster followed 
them rapidly for two days, but did not come up with 
them, they having crossed the Smoky Hill River on the 
morning of the 16th, eight hundred strong, and entered 
upon the series of outrages already mentioned. 

General Hancock in the mean time remained in his 
camp awaiting information ; and, on hearing of the con- 
duct of the Indians by official report of General Ouster, 
and knowing that by these murders and depredations the 
war, which had been actually in progress for more than 
a year, was being continued with renewed ferocity, he 


gave orders for tlie destruction of their village, as a pun- 
ishment for their treachery and bad faith, and for the 
murders which they had willfully and gratuitously com- 
mitted. A few old people and sick, who had been left 
behind in the village by the Indians, were taken in 
charge under the General's orders and were properly 
cared for. 

This Indian war was vigorously prosecuted by General 
Hancock with the small force at his command during the 
remaining period of his continuance in the Department of 
the Missouri, that is, until September, 1867, when he left 
the command of that department. 

During that summer General Hancock organized a 
force of mounted volunteers, about twenty-five hun- 
dred strong, in the neighboring States and Territories, 
and, adding to this all the regular troops under his com- 
mand, conducted the war with such success that he event- 
ually conquered a peace without unnecessary cruelty and 
with comparatively slight loss to our arms. The war did 
not finally close until the winter of 1868-'69, being con- 
tinued by General Sheridan after he relieved General 
Hancock, many lives being lost during its continuance, 
much property destroyed, and the settlement of the coun- 
try retarded and travel over the plains suspended. 

The official records show that General Hancock, dur- 
ing his command in the Indian country, did all that was 
possible to preserve peace with the Indians, and that it 
was not until the murders and outrages, treacherously 
undertaken by them, had been committed, that he pun- 
ished them by destroying their village. 

Pursuant to orders from the President of the United 
States, General Hancock relinquished the command of 
the Department of the Missouri on the 12th of Sep- 


tember, 186T, and shortly after proceeded to New Or- 
leans, where he assumed command of the Fifth Mili- 
tary District, comprising the States of Louisiana and 

The considerations which prompted this appointment 
were highly complimentary to the General, who had, in 
every position in which his services had been employed, 
exhibited so much foresight, moderation, firmness, prac- 
tical wisdom, and administrative ability, that the cabinet 
turned to him as the man most eminently qualified to 
harmonize the discordant elements of society in the 
South, and restore the regular operation of the law. In 
Maryland and Missouri his influence had been so benign 
and so efficient as to promise similar results in this new 
field of civic-military operations. 

He set out for New Orleans immediately upon trans- 
ferring the Department of Missouri to General Phil Sheri- 
dan, but at St. Louis was met by a telegram from the 
President ordering him to "Washington, where he re- 
mained for some days in conference with the national 
authorities concerning the command to which he was 
going, after which time he returned to St. Louis. 

He finally arrived at New Orleans and assumed com- 
mand of the district on the 29th of November, relieving 
General Mower. General Hancock had meanwhile care- 
fully considered the subject of the reconstruction of the 
Southern States under the acts passed by Congress, and 
had concluded upon his own duty in the premises and 
determined upon his course. 

Here it is proper to give the " Reconstruction Acts," 
so called, under which those appointed to command in 
the States recently in rebellion were authorized and em- 
powered to act. 


(From " IT. 8. Statutes at Large," Volume XIV, Chapter CLIII.) 

CHAPTER CLIII. An Act to provide for the more efficient 
Government of the Rebel States. (Passed March #d, 1867.} 

Whereas, no legal State government or adequate protection for 
life or property now exists in the rebel States of Virginia, North 
Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, 
Florida, Texas, and Arkansas ; and whereas it is necessary that 
peace and good order should be enforced in said States until loyal 
and republican State governments can be legally established ; there- 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, That said rebel 
States shall be divided into military districts, and made subject to 
the military authority of the United States as hereinafter prescribed, 
and for that purpose Virginia shall constitute the first district ; 
North Carolina and South Carolina the second district ; Georgia, 
Alabama, and Florida the third district ; Mississippi and Arkansas 
the fourth district ; and Louisiana and Texas the fifth district. 

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of 
the President to assign to the command of each of said districts an 
officer of the army, not below the rank of brigadier-general, and to 
detail a sufficient military force to enable such officer to perform his 
duties and enforce his authority within the district to which he is 

SEO. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of 
each officer assigned as aforesaid, to protect all persons in their 
rights of person and property, to suppress insurrection, disorder, 
and violence, and to punish, or cause to be punished, all disturbers 
of the public peace and criminals ; and to this end he may allow 
local civil tribunals to take jurisdiction of and to try offenders, or, 
when in his judgment it may be necessary for the trial of offenders, 
he shall have power to organize military commissions or tribunals 
for that purpose, and all interference under color of State authority 
with the exercise of military authority under this act shall be null 
and void. 

SEO. 4. And be it further enacted, That all persons put under 
military arrest by virtue of this act shall be tried without unneces- 


sary delay, and no cruel or unusual punishment shall be inflicted, 
and no sentence of any military commission or tribunal hereby 
authorized, affecting the life or liberty of any person, shall be exe- 
cuted until it is approved by the officer in command of the district, 
and the laws and regulations for the government of the army shall 
not be affected by this act, except in so far as they conflict with its 
provisions : Provided, That no sentence of death under the provi- 
sions of this act shall be carried into effect without the approval of 
the President. 

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That when the people of any 
one of said rebel States shall have formed a constitution of govern- 
ment in conformity with the Constitution of the United States in 
all respects, framed by a convention of delegates elected by the 
male citizens of said State twenty-one years old and upward, of 
whatever race, color, or previous condition, who have been resi- 
dent in said State for one year previous to the day of such election, 
except such as may be disfranchised for participation in the rebel- 
lion or for felony at common law, and when such constitution shall 
provide that the elective franchise shall be enjoyed by all such per- 
sons as have the qualifications herein stated for electors of delegates, 
and when such constitution shall be ratified by a majority of the 
persons voting on the question of ratification who are qualified as 
electors for delegates, and when such constitution shall have been 
submitted to Congress for examination and approval, and Congress 
shall have approved the same, and when said State, by a vote of its 
legislature elected under said constitution, shall have adopted the 
amendment to the Constitution of the United States, proposed by 
the Thirty-ninth Congress, and known as Article Fourteen, and 
when said article shall have become a part of the Constitution of 
the United States, said State shall be declared entitled to represen- 
tation in Congress, and senators and representatives shall be admit- 
ted therefrom on their taking the oath prescribed by law, and then 
and thereafter the preceding sections of this act shall be inoperative 
in said State : Provided, That no person, excluded from the privilege 
of holding office by said proposed amendment to the Constitution of 
the United States, shall be eligible to election as a member of the 
convention to frame a constitution for any of said rebel States, nor 
shall any such person vote for members of such convention. 

SEC. 6. And le it further enacted, That, until the people of said 


rebel States shall be by law admitted to representation in the Con- 
gress of the United States, any civil governments which may exist 
therein shall be deemed provisional only, and in all respects subject 
to the paramount authority of the United States at any time to abol- 
ish, modify, control, or supersede the same ; and in all elections to 
any office under such provisional governments all persons shall be 
entitled to vote, and none others, who are entitled to vote, under 
the provisions of the fifth section of this act ; and no person shall be 
eligible to any office under any such provisional governments who 
would be disqualified from holding office under the provisions of the 
third article of said Constitutional amendment. 


Speaker of the House of Representatives. 

President of the Senate, pro tempore. 

(From " U. S. Statutes at Large," Vol. XV, Chapter VI.) 

CHAPTER VI. An Act supplementary to an Act entitled, "An 
Act to provide for the more efficient Government of the Rebel 
States" passed March second, eighteen hundred and sixty -seven, 
and to facilitate Restoration. 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, That, before the 
first day of September, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, the com- 
manding general in each district defined by an Act entitled, "An 
Act to provide for the more efficient government of the Rebel 
States," passed March second, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, 
shall cause a registration to be made of the male citizens of the 
United States, twenty-one years of age and upward, resident in 
each county or parish in the State or States included in his dis- 
trict, which registration shall include only those persons who are 
qualified to vote for delegates by the act aforesaid, and who shall 
have taken and subscribed the following oath or affirmation : " I, 
, do solemnly swear (or affirm), in the presence of Al- 
mighty God, that I am a citizen of the State of ; that I have 

resided in said State for months next preceding this day, and 

now reside in the county of , or the parish of , in said 

State (as the case may be) ; that I am twenty-one years old ; that 


I have not been disfranchised for participation in any rebellion or 
civil war against the United States; nor for felony committed 
against the laws of any State, or of the United States ; that I have 
never been a member of any State legislature, nor held any exec- 
utive or judicial office in any State and afterward engaged in insur- 
rection or rebellion against the United States, or given aid or com- 
fort to the enemies thereof; that I have never taken an oath as 
a member of Congress of the United States, or as an officer of the 
United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an 
executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitu- 
tion of the United States, and afterward engaged in insurrection or 
rebellion against the United States, or given aid or comfort to the 
enemies thereof; that I will faithfully support the Constitution and 
obey the laws of the United States, and will, to the best of my abil- 
ity, encourage others so to do, so help me God " ; which oath or affir- 
mation may be administered by any registering officer. 

SEC. 2. And ~be it further enacted, That, after the completion of 
the registration hereby provided for in any State, at such time and 
places therein as the commanding general shall appoint and direct, 
of which at least thirty days' public notice shall be given, an elec- 
tion shall be held of delegates to a convention for the purpose of 
establishing a constitution and civil government for such State loyal 
to the Union ; said convention in each State, except Virginia, to con- 
sist of the same number of members as the most numerous branch 
of the State legislature of such State in the year eighteen hundred 
and sixty, to be apportioned among the several districts, counties, 
or parishes of such State by the commanding general, giving to each 
representation in the ratio of voters registered as aforesaid as nearly 
as may be. The convention in Virginia shall consist of the same 
number of members as represented the territory now constituting 
Virginia in the most numerous branch of the legislature of said 
State in the year eighteen hundred and sixty, to be apportioned as 

SKO. 3. And be it further enacted, That at said election the re- 
gistered voters of each State shall vote for or against a convention 
to form a constitution therefor under this act. Those voting in 
favor of such a convention shall have written or printed on the 
ballots by which they vote for delegates, as aforesaid, the words 
" For a Convention," and those voting against such a convention 


shall have written or printed on such ballots the words "Against a 
Convention." The persons appointed to superintend said election, 
and to make return of the votes given thereat, as herein provided, 
shall count and make return of the votes given for and against a 
convention, and the commanding general, to whom the same shall 
have been returned, shall ascertain and declare the total vote in 
each State for and against a convention. If a majority of the votes 
given on that question shall be for a convention, then such conven- 
tion shall be held as hereinafter provided ; but if a majority of 
said votes shall be against a convention, then no such convention 
shall be held under this act: Provided, That such convention 
shall not be held unless a majority of all such registered voters 
shall have voted on the question holding such convention. 

SEO. 4. And le it further enacted, That the commanding gen- 
eral of each district shall appoint as many boards of registration as 
may be necessary, consisting of three loyal officers or persons, to 
make and complete the registration, superintend the election, and 
make return to him of the votes, list of voters, and of the persons 
elected as delegates by a plurality of the votes cast at said election ; 
and upon receiving said returns he shall open the same, ascertain 
the persons elected as delegates, according to the returns of the 
officers who conducted said election, and make proclamation there- 
of ; and if a majority of votes given on that question shall be for a 
convention, the command ing general, within sixty days from the date 
of election, shall notify the delegates to assemble in convention, 
at a time and place to be mentioned in the notification, and said con- 
vention, when organized, shall proceed to frame a constitution 
and civil government according to the provisions of this act, and 
the act to which it is supplementary ; and, when the same shall 
have been so framed, said constitution shall be submitted by the 
convention for ratification to the persons registered under the 
provisions of this act at an election to be conducted by the offi- 
cers or persons appointed or to be appointed by the commanding 
general, as hereinbefore provided, and to be held after the expira- 
tion of thirty days from the date of notice thereof, to be given by 
said convention; and the returns thereof shall be made to the 
commanding general of the district. 

SEO. 5. And le it further enacted, That if, according to said re- 
turns, the constitution shall be ratified by a majority of the votes 


of the registered electors, qualified as herein specified, cast at said 
election, at least one half of all the registered voters voting upon the 
question of such ratification, the president of the convention shall 
transmit a copy of the same, duly certified, to the President of the 
United States, who shall forthwith transmit the same to Congress, 
if then in session, and if not in session, then immediately upon its 
next assembling ; and if it shall moreover appear to Congress that the 
election was one at which all the registered and qualified electors 
in the State had an opportunity to vote freely and without re- 
straint, fear, or the influence of fraud ; and if the Congress shall 
be satisfied that such constitution meets the approval of a majority 
of all the qualified electors in the State, and if the said constitution 
shall be declared by Congress to be in conformity with the provis- 
ions of the act to which this is supplementary, and the other pro- 
visions of said act shall have been complied with, and the said 
constitution shall be approved by Congress, the State shall be de- 
clared entitled to representation, and senators and representatives 
shall be admitted therefrom as therein provided. 

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That all elections in the States 
mentioned in the said " Act to provide for the more efficient Gov- 
ernment of the Rebel States," shall during the operation of said 
act, be by ballot ; and all officers making the said registration of 
voters and conducting said elections shall, before entering upon the 
discharge of their duties, take and subscribe the oath prescribed by 
the act approved July second, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, en- 
titled u An Act to prescribe an Oath of Office": Provided, That 
if any person knowingly and falsely take and subscribe any oath 
in this act prescribed, such person so offending and being thereof 
duly convicted, shall be subject to the pains, penalties, and disabili- 
ties which by law are provided for the punishment of the crime of 
willful and corrupt perjury. 

SEO. 7. And le it further enacted, That all expenses incurred by 
the several commanding generals, or by virtue of any orders issued 
or appointments made by them, under or by virtue of this act, 
shall be paid out of any moneys in the treasury not otherwise ap- 

SEO. 8. And le it further enacted, That the convention for each 
State shall prescribe the fees, salary, and compensation to be paid 
to all delegates and other officers and agents herein authorized or 


necessary to carry into effect the purposes of this act not herein 
otherwise provided for, and shall provide for the levy and collec- 
tion of such taxes on the property in such State as may be neces- 
sary to pay the same. 

SEC. 9. And ~be it further enacted, That the word " Article," in 
the sixth section of the act to which this is supplementary, shall be 
construed to mean " section." 


Speaker of the House of Representatives. 
B. F. WADE, 

President of the Senate, pro tempore. 

(From Vol. XV, "U. S. Statutes at Large," Chapter XXX.) 

CHAPTER XXX. An Act supplementary to an Act entitled "An 
Act to provide for the more efficient Government of the Rebel 
States,' 1 ' 1 passed on the second day of March, eighteen hundred 
and sixty -seven, and the Act supplementary thereto, passed on 
the twenty -third day of March, eighteen hundred and sixty - 

Be it enacted ly the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, That it is hereby 
declared to have been the true intent and meaning of the act of the 
second day of March, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven, 
entitled u An Act to provide for the more efficient Government of 
the Eebel States," and of the act supplementary thereto, passed on 
the twenty-third of March, in the year one thousand eight hundred 
and sixty-seven, that the governments then existing in the Rebel 
States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Missis- 
sippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and Arkansas were not 
legal State governments; and that thereafter said governments, if 
continued, were to be continued subject in all respects to the mili- 
tary commanders of the respective districts, and to the paramount 
authority of Congress. 

SEC. 2. And he it further enacted, That the commander of any 
district named in said act shall have power, subject to the disap- 
proval of the General of the Army of the United States, and to have 
effect till disapproved, whenever in the opinion of such comman- 
der the proper administration of said act shall require it, to sus- 


pend or remove from office, or from the performance of official 
duties and the exercise of official powers, any officer or person 
holding or exercising, or professing to hold or exercise, any civil or 
military office or duty in such district under any power, election, 
appointment, or authority derived from, or granted by, or claimed 
under, any so-called State or the government thereof, or any muni- 
cipal or other division thereof; and upon such suspension or removal 
such commander, subject to the disapproval of the General as afore- 
said, shall have power to provide from time to time for the per- 
formance of the said duties of such officer or person so suspended 
or removed, by the detail of some competent officer or soldier of 
the army, or by the appointment of some other person, to perform 
the same, and to fill vacancies occasioned by death, resignation, or 

SEO. 3. And he it further enacted, That the General of the 
Army of the United States shall be invested with all the powers of 
suspension, removal, appointment, and detail granted in the preced- 
ing section to district commanders. 

SEO. 4. And he it further enacted, That the acts of the officers 
of the army already done in removing in said districts persons exer- 
cising the functions of civil officers, and appointing others in their 
stead, are hereby confirmed : Provided, That any person heretofore 
or hereafter appointed by any district commander to exercise the 
functions of any civil office, may be removed either by the military 
officer in command of the district, or by the General of the Army. 
And it shall be the duty of such commander to remove from office 
as aforesaid all persons who are disloyal to the Government of the 
United States, or who use their official influence in any manner to 
hinder, delay, prevent, or obstruct the due and proper administra- 
tion of this act and the acts to which it is supplementary. 

SEO. 5. And he it further enacted, That the boards of registra- 
tion provided for in the act entitled "An Act supplementary to an 
Act entitled 'An act to provide for the more efficient government 
of the Rebel States,' passed March two, eighteen hundred and sixty- 
seven, and to facilitate restoration," passed March twenty-three, 
eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, shall have power, and it shall be 
their duty, before allowing the registration of any person, to ascer- 
tain upon such facts or information as they can obtain, whether 
such person is entitled to be registered under said act, and the oath 


required by said act shall not be conclusive on such question, and 
no person shall be registered unless such board shall decide that he is 
entitled thereto: and such board shall also have power to examine, 
under oath (to be administered by any member of such board), any 
one touching the qualification of any person claiming registration ; 
but in every case of refusal by the board to register an applicant, 
and in every case of striking his name from the list as hereinafter 
provided, the board shall make a note or memorandum, which shall 
be returned with the registration list to the commanding general 
of the district, setting forth the grounds of such refusal or such 
striking from the list : Provided, That no person shall be disquali- 
fied as member of any board of registration by reason of race or 

SEO. 6. And le it further enacted, That the true intent and 
meaning of the oath prescribed in said supplementary act is (among 
other things), that no person who has been a member of the Legis- 
lature of any State, or who has held any executive or judicial office 
in any State, whether he has taken an oath to support the Consti- 
tution of the United States or not, and whether he was holding 
such office at the commencement of the rebellion or had held it 
before, and who was afterward engaged in insurrection or rebel- 
lion against the United States, or given aid or comfort to the ene- 
mies thereof, is entitled to be registered or to vote ; and the words 
" executive or judicial office in any State " in said oath mentioned 
shall be construed to include all civil offices created by law for the 
administration of any general law of a State, or for the administra- 
tion of justice. 

SEO. 7. And be it further enacted, That the time for completing 
the original registration provided for in said act may, in the discre- 
tion of the commander of any district, be extended to the first day 
of October, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven ; and the boards of 
registration shall have power, and it shall be their duty, commenc- 
ing fourteen days prior to any election under said act, and upon 
reasonable public notice of the time and place thereof to revise, for 
a period of five days, the registration lists, and upon being satisfied 
that any person not entitled thereto has been registered, to strike 
the name of such person from the list, and such person shall not be 
allowed to vote. And such board shall also, during the same 
period, add to such registry the names of all persons who at that 


time possessed the qualifications required by said act who have not 
been already registered : and no person shall, at any time, be en- 
titled to be registered or to vote by reason of any executive pardon 
or amnesty for any act or thing which, without such pardon or 
amnesty, would disqualify him from registration or voting. 

SEC. 8. And le it further enacted, That section four of said last- 
named act shall be construed to authorize the commanding general 
named therein, whenever he shall deem it needful, to remove any 
member of a board of registration and to appoint another in his 
stead, and to fill any vacancy in such board. 

SEO. 9. And be it further enacted, That all members of said 
board of registration, and all persons hereafter elected or appointed 
to office in said military districts, under any so-called state or muni- 
cipal authority, or by detail or appointment of the district com- 
manders, shall be required to take and to subscribe to the oath of 
office prescribed by law for officers of the United States. 

SEO. 10. And be it further enacted, That no district commander 
or member of the board of registration, or any of the officers or 
appointees acting under them, shall be bound in his action by any 
opinion of any civil officer of the United States. 

SEO. 11. And le it further enacted, That all the provisions of 
this act and of the acts to which this is supplementary shall be con- 
strued liberally, to the end that all the intents thereof may be fully 
and perfectly carried out. 


Speaker of the House of Representatives. 
B. F. WADE, 

Speaker of the Senate, pro tempore. 

Fully acquainted with the nature of these acts, Gen- 
eral Hancock was guided in his after course by his own 
judgment, sense of duty, and conscientious interpretation 
of the Constitution and the law. While on the steam- 
boat which was carrying him to New Orleans, he drew 
up in his own handwriting the military order which has 
since become celebrated as " Order No. 40," and of 
which the following is an exact copy : 



" NEW ORLEANS, LA., November 29, 1867. 

" I. In accordance with General Orders, No. 81, Headquarters 
of the Army, Adjutant-General's Office, Washington, D. C., August 
27, 1867, Major-General W. S. Hancock hereby assumes command 
of the Fifth Military District, and of the Department composed of 
the States of Louisiana and Texas. 

" II. The General Commanding is gratified to learn that peace 
and quiet reign in this department. It will be his purpose to 
preserve this condition of things. As a means to this great end he 
requires the maintenance of the civil authorities, and the faithful 
execution of the laws as the most efficient under existing circum- 

" In war it is indispensable to repel force by force, to overthrow 
and destroy opposition to lawful authority ; but when insurrection- 
ary force has been overthrown and peace established, and the civil 
authorities are ready and willing to perform their duties, the mili- 
tary power should cease to lead, and the civil administration resume 
its natural and rightful dominion. Solemnly impressed with these 
views, the General announces that the great principles of American 
liberty are still the inheritance of this people, and ever should be. 
The right of trial by jury, the habeas corpus, the liberty of the press, 
the freedom of speech, the natural rights of persons, and the rights 
of property must be preserved. 

"Free institutions, while they are essential to the prosperity and 
happiness of the people, always furnish the strongest inducements 
to peace and order. Crimes and offenses committed in this district 
must be left to the consideration and judgment of the regular civil 
tribunals, and those tribunals will be supported in their lawful juris- 

" Should there be violations of existing laws which are not in- 
quired into by the civil magistrates, or should failures in the admin- 
istration of justice be complained of, the cases will be reported to 
these headquarters, when such orders will be made as maybe deemed 

" While the General thus indicates his purpose to respect the 
liberties of the people, he wishes all to understand that armed insur- 
rection or forcible resistance to the law will be instantly suppressed 
by arms." 


The Fifth Military District General Hancock's Powers President Lincoln's 
Theory of Reconstruction Flattering Recognition of Order No. 40 
Internal Questions in Louisiana and Texas General Hancock's Treat- 
ment of them Extracts from his Orders while in New Orleans Gen- 
eral Hancock's Course obnoxious to the Radicals They determine on 
his Removal James A. Garfield's Bill reducing the Number of Major- 
Generals Petty Annoyances General Hancock applies to be Relieved 
Relieved of his Command March 18, 1868. 

IT will have been seen by reference to the Reconstruc- 
tion Acts, that under those laws General Hancock had now 
become the absolute ruler of two great States Louisiana 
and Texas he had power to remove civil magistrates 
and suppress the local tribunals, to establish military com- 
missions and suspend the civil laws ; such were the un- 
limited and dangerous powers conferred upon the military 
commanders of the several districts in the Southern coun- 
try by those unparalleled acts under which they were to 
perform their functions. It is just to observe here that, 
had President Lincoln lived, no such laws as these would 
have been enacted, for it is known that he had indicated 
the theory of reconstruction which he designed to carry 
out, and which he certainly would have carried out. His 
theory, as announced by himself, was that the States 
which attempted to secede had not succeeded in getting 
out of the Union, that the rebellion was a failure, that 
our brave armies had preserved the Union, and that, when 


the military power of the Confederacy was broken, the 
several States which had for a time swerved from their 
course in our national system, fell back naturally into 
their normal orbits, and were to be treated as States and 
members of the National Union. All he insisted upon, 
and all he believed Congress had a right to exact, was 
obedience to the Constitution and to the laws of the 
United States, for the future guarantee of which he re- 
quired State pledges, and the placing of such men in au- 
thority as would promote future loyalty to the General 
Government. He certainly never dreamed of reducing 
the seceded States to a territorial condition, or of treating 
them as conquered countries whose destinies would be ar- 
bitrarily determined by the central Government, irrespec- 
tive of the provisions of the Constitution, and regardless 
of those principles which Americans had always held to 
be fundamental in free governments. The President 
never swerved from the conviction " that free govern- 
ments derived their just powers from the consent of the 
governed," and, had he lived, the harsh measures which 
the extreme radicals in Congress adopted would never 
have been inaugurated. 

President Johnson was disposed to carry out the known 
plans of his predecessor, and attempted to do so, but va- 
rious causes conspired to embarrass and thwart his efforts, 
one of these being that, as a Southern man, he had not the 
full confidence and cooperation of the extreme wing of the 
Republican party; another that he had not the strong 
hold which his predecessor had upon the confidence and 
affection of the country, and hence could not exert the 
power that could readily have been exercised by Mr. Lin- 

J. "Wilkes Booth proved himself the worst enemy the 


South ever had, by assassinating the only man who could 
have restored the Union upon constitutional principles ; 
for by that fatal shot he opened the way for bringing to 
the front the most violent partisans, who for a time ab- 
sorbed the national authority and influence, and swayed 
the fortunes of the country according to their own in- 
terests and their own desires. 

It will be remembered that, previous to the time Gen- 
eral Hancock assumed command at New Orleans, Con- 
gress had parceled out the South into a number of mili- 
tary districts, and appointed over each a military governor 
clothed with despotic powers, which we have described. 
This action of Congress seemed to be based upon the as- 
sumption that the Southern people had forfeited all their 
constitutional liberties, and were not entitled to any of 
the civil rights of freemen. This doctrine was openly 
avowed upon the floors of Congress, in the press, and 
elsewhere, notwithstanding that it was palpably at war 
with all ideas of political advancement, and with the very 
principles of our own Revolution, and upon which we 
became an independent country. On such a foundation 
were enacted the harsh and unreasonable laws we have 
quoted, and which were generally enforced throughout 
the South ; but, as has been indicated in his " General 
Order No. 40," and as was the case during his control of 
affairs in Louisiana and Texas, General Hancock gave a 
liberal interpretation to these laws, in strict conformity 
with Section 11, of the Act last quoted, which was passed 
after General Hancock left the Fifth Military District, 
his first action, in issuing the order in question, being to 
proclaim that the Constitution had not perished amid the 
clash of arms, but was still the fundamental law of the whole 
land and the palladium of the civil rights of all the people. 


Here, and in reference to this remarkable order, it is 
to be observed that it elicited many expressions of appro- 
bation from different parts of the country, only one of 
which we are able to give in this place, written by Hon. 
J. S. Black, of Pennsylvania, on the day following the 
date of the issuing of General Orders, No. 40, or immedi- 
ately after the knowledge of the nature of this order had 
reached Washington by telegraph. It is as follows : 

" WASHINGTON, November 30, 1867. 

" MY DEAR GENERAL : This moment I read your admirable or- 
der. I am much engaged, but I can not resist the temptation to steal 
time enough from rny clients to tell you how grateful you have 
made me by your patriotic and noble words. Yours is the most dis- 
tinct and most emphatic recognition which the principles of Ameri- 
can liberty have received at the hands of any high officer in a 
Southern command. It has the very ring of the Revolutionary 
metal. "Washington never said a thing in better taste or at a better 
time. It will prove to all men that * peace hath her victories not 
less renowned than those of war.' 

" I congratulate you, not because it will make you the most pop- 
ular man in America, for I dare say you care nothing about that, 
but it will give you through all time the solid reputation of a true 
patriot and a sincere lover of your country, its laws, and its govern- 
ment ; this, added to your brilliant achievements as a soldier, will 
leave you without a rival in the affections of all whose good will is 
worth having, and give you a place in history which your children 
will be proud of. 

" This acknowledgment from me does not amount to much, but 
I am expressing only the feelings of millions, and expressing them 
feebly at that. With profound respect, 

" Yours, etc., 

(Signed) "J.S. BLACK." 

" Major-General W. S. HANCOCK." 

The determination to leave all public or private griev- 
ances, which should be brought before him in his com- 


mand, to the civil authorities, and to restrain the military 
power from unnecessary interference with them, which 
General Hancock had formed when he undertook the 
command, and had expressed in his Order No. 40, was 
carried out in practice in every case that came before 
him. Quotations from certain of his orders indicating 
this are pertinent : 


"LOUISIANA, December 4, 1867. 


"II. Paragraph III of Special Order No. 188, from these head- 
quarters, dated November 16, 1867, issued by Brevet-General 
Mower, removing P. R. O'Rourke, Olerk of Second District Court, 
Parish of Orleans, for malfeasance in office, and appointing R. L. 
Shelley in his place, is hereby revoked, and P. R. O'Rourke is rein- 
stated in said office. If any charges are set up against the said 
O'Rourke, the Judicial Department of the Government is sufficient 
to take whatever action may be necessary in the premises. 

" By command of MAJOB-GENEBAL HANCOCK." 



"NEW ORLEANS, December 6, 1867. 

" Extract. 

" II. The true and proper use of the military power, besides de- 
fending the national honor against foreign nations, is to uphold the 
laws and civil government, and to secure to every person residing 
among us the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property. It is accord- 
ingly made by act of Congress the duty of the commander of this 
district to protect all persons in those rights, to suppress disorder 
and violence, and to punish, or cause to be punished, all disturbance 
of the public peace, and all crimes. 

" The Commanding General has been informed that the admin- 
istration of justice, and especially of criminal justice, in the courts, 


is clogged, if not entirely prostrated, by the enforcement of Para- 
graph No. II, of the Military Order No. 125, current series, from 
these headquarters, issued on the 24th of August, 1867, relative to 
qualifications of persons to be placed on the jury list of the State of 
Louisiana. To determine who shall and who shall not be jurors 
appertains to the legislative power, and until the laws in existence 
regulating this subject shall be amended or changed by that depart- 
ment of the civil government, which the constitution of all the 
States vests with that power, it is deemed best to carry out the will 
of the people as expressed in the last legislative act upon this sub- 
ject. The qualification of a juror under the law is a proper subject 
for the decision of the courts. 

" The Commanding General in the discharge of the trust reposed 
in him will maintain the just power of the judiciary, and is unwilling 
to permit the civil authority and laws to be embarrassed by military 
interference ; and, as it is an established fact that the administration 
of justice in the criminal tribunals is greatly embarrassed by the 
operation of Paragraph No. II, Special Orders, No. 125, current 
series, from these headquarters, it is ordered that this said order, with 
said paragraph, which relates to the qualifications of persons to be 
placed on the jury list, be, and the same is hereby revoked, and that 
trial by jury be henceforth regulated and controlled by the Constitu- 
tion and civil laws, without regard to any military orders heretofore 



Another extract, this time from Special Orders, "No. 
211, sustains the jurisdiction of the civil courts over the 
rights of private property. It is as follows : 

"IV. Paragraph III, of Special Orders, No. 197, current series, 
from these headquarters, issued by Brevet-General J. A. Mower, in 
the matter of the estate of D. B. Staats, is hereby revoked. The 
local tribunal possesses ample power for the protection of all parties 

Another, being Special Order No. 213, secures the 


purity of elections and forbids military interference at 
the polls. It is as follows : 

" In compliance with the supplementary Act of Congress of March 
23, 1867, notice is hereby given that an election will he held in the 
State of Texas, on the 10th, llth, 12th, 13th, and 14th days of Feb- 
ruary, 1868, to determine whether a convention shall be held and 
for delegates thereto, to frame a * constitution ' for the State under 
said Act. 

" IX. Military interference with elections, unless it shall be neces- 
sary to keep the peace at the polls, is prohibited by law, and no 
soldiers will be allowed to appear at any polling place unless as citi- 
zens of the State they are registered as voters, and then only for 
the purpose of voting. 

" X. The sheriff and other peace officers from each county are 
required to be present until the election shall be completed, and are 
made responsible for good order." 

The Hon. E. Heath, Mayor of New Orleans, having ad- 
dressed a communication to the General, requesting his 
intervention in State suits against the city on its notes, the 
General directed his secretary for civil affairs to transmit 
his (the GeneraPs) reply. In this reply the General respect- 
fully declines interfering in the way desired, and assigns 
reasons for so declining. These reasons are briefly : 

" 1. An order would be in effect a stay law in favor 
of the city, which under the Constitution could not be 
enacted by the legislature of the State, while the com- 
mander of the district ought not to assume such an au- 

" 2. This debt, though illegal at first, had been legal- 
ized by the legislature, and the city was bound to pay it. 

"3. The inability to pay, which was assigned as a 
reason for asking military interference, was no valid rea- 
son, for all debtors might plead the same. 


" 4. That as the taxes due the city could not be seized 
by her creditors, there was no necessity for the interven- 
tion invoked." 

In the matter of the trial of offenses against the laws 
of the State by military commissions, General Hancock 
took equally wise and conservative ground. He was 
urged by Judge Noonan, by Governor Pease, and others 
of the State of Texas, to appoint military commissions 
to try three prisoners, Wall, Thatcher, and Pulliam, 
charged with murder. Earnest reasons were urged for 
his acquiescence in their request, but the General refused 
to use military power in cases where civil tribunals could 
perform their functions, and in a well-considered re- 
sponse assigned reasons for the refusal. This paper is 
an admirable one. It recites the acts of Congress under 
which his intervention was invoked, and shows that, al- 
though these gave a military commander in a certain con- 
dition of things power to punish criminals and all dis- 
turbers of the public peace, under the same section is 
declared, " To that end he may allow local civil tribunals 
to assume the jurisdiction, and try offenders." 

The paper further sets forth that the power to organ- 
ize military commissions for the trial of criminals was 
an extraordinary power, and should be exercised only 
when the local civil tribunals are unable or unwilling to 
enforce the laws against crime. 

He further urged that the State government of Tex- 
as, organized under the authority of the United States, 
was then in the full exercise of its powers, the courts 
in full operation, no unwillingness had been shown by 
them tD perform their duties, nor were there any obstruc- 
tions in the way of enforcing the laws by civil authority. 
Under such circumstances there were no good grounds 


for the exercise of the extraordinary power vested in the 
commander to organize military commissions for the trial 
of the persons named. The paper went on to say, " It 
must be a matter of profound regret to all who value 
constitutional government, that there should be occasions 
in times of civil commotion when the public good imper- 
atively requires the intervention of military power for 
the repression of disorders in the body politic, and for 
the punishment of offenses against existing laws, framed 
for the preservation of social order ; but that the inter- 
vention of this power should be called for or even sug- 
gested by civil magistrates when the laws are no longer 
silent, and civil magistrates are possessed of all the pow- 
ers necessary to give effect to the laws, excites the sur- 
prise of the commander of the Fifth Military District. In 
his view, it is an evil example, and full of danger to the 
cause of freedom and good government, that the exercise 
of the military power through military tribunals, created 
for the trial of offenses against civil law, should ever be 
permitted when the ordinary powers of the existing State 
governments, if faithfully administered, are ample to the 
punishment of offenders." 

The General concluded by assuring the authorities 
that, if they had not force enough to retain the prisoners 
until they could be tried, he (the General) would supply 
it upon proper application, and that, if there were not 
citizens of Texas in sufficient number and of proper quali- 
fications to furnish officers for enforcing the laws of the 
State, it would then become necessary for the commander 
of the Fifth District to exercise the powers vested in him 
by the acts of Congress, but until such was shown to ex- 
ist it was not his purpose to interfere. 

General Hancock was also applied to, to set aside elec- 


tions by the people which were alleged to be irregular, 
and to assume the appointing power himself ; but, in a 
letter written by his direction, he declined to interpose 
his authority, and advised that, in case there were vitiating 
irregularities in elections, they be referred to the people 
to rectify by a new election. 

Governor B. F. Flanders had, on the llth of Decem- 
ber, 1867, addressed a communication to General Han- 
cock, suggesting that, in the exercise of his powers as 
commander of the district, he should remove from office 
certain officials the police jury for alleged malfeasance 
in office. In reply General Hancock reminded the Gov- 
ernor that removals from office were not to be made with- 
out judicial investigation, and that the courts of justice 
could very easily furnish relief for the evils complained of. 

In view of these applications to him as commander 
for the exercise of judicial functions, General Hancock, 
on the 1st of January, 1868, issued General Orders, ISTo. 
1. The following is a quotation from this order : 

" Applications have been made at these headquarters, 
implying the existence of an arbitrary authority in the 
Commanding General touching purely civil controversies. 
One petitioner solicits this action, another that, and each 
refers to some special consideration of grace or favor 
which he supposes to exist, and which should influence 
the department. The number of these applications. . . 
makes it necessary to declare that the administration of 
civil justice appertains to the regular courts. The rights 
of litigants do not depend upon the views of the General ; 
they are to be judged and settled according to the laws. 
Arbitrary power, such as he has been urged to assume, 
has no existence here. It is not found in the laws of 


Louisiana or of Texas ; it can not be derived from any act 
of Congress. It is restrained by the Constitution. . . . 
The Major-General commanding takes occasion to repeat 
that, while disclaiming judicial functions in civil cases, he 
can suffer no forcible resistance to the execution of pro- 
cesses of the courts." 

General Hancock had been applied to by Chief En- 
gineer Henry Van Yleet, of the New Orleans, Mobile, and 
Chattanooga Railroad Company, to issue a certain order in 
behalf of the said company. In declining to issue such 
an order, the General, in his reply, dated January 2, 
1868, says : 

" The order asked for embraces questions of the most 
important and delicate nature, such as the exercise of the 
right of eminent domain, the obstruction of navigable 
rivers or outlets, etc., and it appears to him very question- 
able whether he ought to deal with questions of that kind ; 
nor is it clear that any benefit could result to the company 
from such an order." 

After suggesting that the State of Louisiana was the 
proper authority to grant the request, the General declined 
to take action in the matter, but offered, if it was desired, 
to send the papers to the Secretary of War. 

Pages might be filled with the recital of the arduous 
and complicated and delicate duties which General Han- 
cock was now called upon to perform in the difficult prob- 
lem which he was required to solve in the administration 
of the affairs of the Fifth Military District. Every spe- 
cies of order was sought from him ; and, had he chosen 
to use the almost absolute power conferred upon the dis- 


trict commanders, as some others did, he might have made 
history very rapidly, and of a very sensational character ; 
but he met every issue that was raised, and every attempt 
that was made upon him, with that cool and calm judg- 
ment, keen foresight, and unswerving regard for the law 
and the right which have always characterized him. 
Civil issues he left to the civil tribunals, and his entire 
administration demonstrated that he was resolved, as far 
as possible, to keep the military subordinate to the civil 
power ; that he sought the peace and quiet of the district, 
the welfare of its people, and the good of the whole 
country. The civil record of General Hancock in his 
wide and important command was as wise, conservative, 
and beneficent as his military record had been glorious. 
His orders during his administration surprise one by 
their exhibition of a thorough familiarity with the great 
principles of law and civil polity, such as would not be 
expected in a professional soldier. He always seemed to 
have an intuition, in the most critical crisis, of the right 
thing to be done, and his execution was as skillful and as 
effective as his perceptions- were clear, comprehensive, 
and correct. 

The nature of the Reconstruction Acts has been suf- 
ficiently set forth, and the character of the administration 
which was expected of the commanders who were ap- 
pointed to carry out the provisions of these in the South- 
ern States has been sufficiently indicated by what has been 
shown of the nature of the demands made upon General 
Hancock. In the appointment to the command of most 
of the Southern military districts, sufficient care had been 
taken to ensure the proper carrying out of the wishes of 
those who had succeeded in framing and passing the Re- 
construction Acts. Happily for the communities over 


which General Hancock was called to rule, here was at 
least one man who determined to uphold constitutional 
liberty and the rights of the citizen under the laws. 
Hancock was a man too magnanimous and too just to do 
otherwise ; and, accordingly, when appointed military 
Governor of Texas and Louisiana, he put the most merci- 
ful interpretation upon the Reconstruction Laws, and 
administered the affairs of his district in such a manner 
as to promote the happiness of the people, and to recon- 
cile them to the Government of the United States. But 
this course did not suit the men who enacted those laws, 
and who had grasped control at Washington. Moreover, 
it was beginning to be perceived that General Hancock 
was becoming popular with the people. A presidential 
election was about to occur, and it was not impossible 
that he should become a formidable impediment in the 
way of the schemes of the ultra radicals, or a dangerous 
rival to those ambitious men who craved the nomination 
to that high office. Altogether, the controlling powers at 
Washington were not satisfied with the quiet, conservative, 
orderly, and energetic manner in which Hancock was 
administering the government of the district under his 
command, or rather permitting the civil authorities to ad- 
minister it. This was not according to their programme 
of restoration ; and, when they learned, moreover, to their 
deep regret, that General Hancock's wise and concilia- 
tory administration was winning him golden opinions 
not only from the people placed under his control, 
but from all rightly judging persons the country over 
they determined upon his removal. The course followed 
to this end was characteristic of those who had it in 
charge. General Garfield, the Chairman of the Com- 
mittee on Military Affairs of the House of Representa- 


tives, introduced a bill to reduce the number of major- 
generals in the army, with the avowed purpose of ousting 
General Hancock. The bill, however, was never pressed 
to its passage, those friendly to it fearing that it would 
excite a public demonstration in favor of the persecuted 
officer. A safer method was adopted, which was to 
effect, by petty and humiliating interference with Gen- 
eral Hancock's jurisdiction and administration in the 
Fifth Military District, the purpose which his enemies 
were unable to accomplish by legitimate means. A con- 
stant succession of harassing acts followed, designed to 
practically humiliate General Hancock before the people 
whom he was sent to govern, and to invalidate his acts 
of government, the persistent and obvious course of 
which action not unnaturally made a profound impression 
upon General Hancock, so that about this time he wrote 
to a friend in Congress as follows :"....! hope to be 
relieved here soon. The President is no longer able to 
protect me, so that I may expect one humiliation after 
another until I am forced to resign. I am prepared for 
any event. Nothing can intimidate me from doing what 
I believe to be honest and right." 

Soon afterward he wrote the following official letter : 


" NEW ORLEANS, LA., February 27, 1867. 


General, U. S. A., Washington, D. C. 
" GENERAL : I have the honor to transmit herewith 
copies of my correspondence with the General-in-Chief 
in reference to my recent action concerning the removal 
from office of certain aldermen in the city of New Or- 
leans, made by me 'for contempt of the orders of the 


district commander.' I request that the same may in an 
appropriate manner as explanatory of my action, and 
for his information be laid before his Excellency the 
President of the United States, with this my request to 
be relieved from the command of this military district, 
where it is no longer useful or agreeable for me to serve. 
"When relieved, should the exigensies of the service per- 
mit, it would be most in accordance with my inclinations 
to be sent to St. Louis, Mo., there to await further or- 

" I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

" Major- General." 

On the 16th of March, 1868, he was relieved of his 
command at ISTew Orleans. 


New Orleans The Pease Correspondence Message of President Johnson 
to both Houses of Congress Letter of General Hancock on the Freed- 
men's Bureau Commendatory Article in the " Southern Review." 

SHORTLY before the close of his administration at New 
Orleans, General Hancock received from Governor Pease, 
of Texas, a letter referring to a previous application for 
the appointment of military commissions to try offenders 
in that State, and defining the reasons for that application. 
In reply to this communication General Hancock wrote 
his justly celebrated letter upon that subject, and we 
append both as illustrating the difficulties of General 
Hancock's position, and the soundness of his political 
principles, the loftiness of his character, the clearness of 
his judgment, the manliness of his patriotism, and the 
profundity of his statesmanship. 


"January 17, 1868. 


" Secretary of Civil Affairs. 

"SiR: Your letter of the 28th of December, 1867, 
was received at this office on the llth instant. I think it 
my duty to reply to some portions of it, lest my silence 
should be construed into an acquiescence in the opinions 
expressed therein, in regard to the condition of Texas, 


and the authority of the Civil Provisional Government 
now existing here. 

"I dissent entirely from the declaration that 'the 
State government of Texas, organized in subordination 
to the authority of the United States, is in the full exer- 
cise of all its proper powers.' The act of Congress, < to 
provide for a more efficient government of the Rebel 
States,' expressly declares in its preamble, that no legal 
State government, or adequate protection of life or prop- 
erty, now exists in Texas, and it is necessary that peace 
and good order should be enforced in said State, until a 
loyal and republican State government can be legally 
established. It then provides that Texas shall be subject 
to the military authority of the United States, and shall 
constitute a part of the Fifth Military District. 

" It also directs the President to assign to the com- 
mand of that district an officer of the army not below 
the rank of brigadier-general, and to detail a sufficient 
military force to enable such officer to perform his duties 
and enforce his authority ; and makes it the duty of such 
officer to protect all persons in their rights of person and 
property ; to suppress insurrection, disorder, and violence, 
and to punish or cause to be punished all disturbers of 
public peace and criminals ; and to this end he may allow 
local civil tribunals to take jurisdiction of and try offen- 
ders ; or, when in his judgment it may be necessary for 
the trial of offenders, he shall have power to organize 
military commissions or tribunals for that purpose ; and 
also declares that interference under color of State au- 
thority with the exercise of military authority of said act 
shall be null and void. 

" This Act further provides that, until the people of 
Texas shall be by law admitted to representation in the 


Congress of the United States, any government that may 
exist therein shall be deemed provisional only, and in all 
respects subject to the paramount authority of the Uni- 
ted States, at any time to abolish, modify, control, or 
supersede the same. 

" The Supplementary Act of July 19, 1867, declares it 
to have been the true intent and meaning of the original 
Act and the Supplementary Act of the 23d of March, 
186T, that the government then existing in Texas was not 
a legal State government, and that thereafter said govern- 
ment, if continued, was to be continued subject in all re- 
spects to the military commander of the District, and the 
paramount authority of Congress. 

" The reasonable construction of these provisions of the 
Act of Congress referred to, would seem to be, that Texas 
is placed under a military government, of which the chief 
officer is the commander of the Fifth Military District ; 
and that whatever civil government there is in Texas is 
provisional only, subject to said military commander and 
the paramount authority of Congress, and exists only by 
their sufferance, as a part of the machinery through which 
the military authority of the United States is exercised. 

" This construction is supported by the acts of the suc- 
cessive commanders of the Fifth Military District and 
their correspondence with this office from the time they 
first assumed command in March, 186T, until quite re- 
cently. They have exercised the right of removing and 
appointing at their pleasure the officers of this civil pro- 
visional government (with the exception of the few that 
are appointed by the Governor), and of filling by ap- 
pointment all vacancies in offices heretofore filled by 
election by the people of Texas. They have also, at 
pleasure, exercised the right to abolish, modify, control, 


and supersede the laws heretofore enacted, as well as the 
proceedings and judgments of the courts. They have 
also, at their pleasure, made arrests for violations of the 
criminal laws. 

" It is true that they have permitted the officers of this 
civil provisional government, except the Legislature, to 
perform their duties as prescribed by the laws of Texas, 
but in subordination to their orders and the laws of the 
United States. 

" I am at a loss to understand how a government, with- 
out representation in Congress, and without any militia 
force, with such limited powers, and those subject to be 
further limited and changed at pleasure by the military 
commander of the District, can with any propriety be 
called a State government organized in subordination to 
the authority of the Government of the United Sates and 
in full exercise of all its proper powers. 

" I also dissent from the declaration that, at this time 
the country is in a state of profound peace.' Texas cannot 
properly be said to be in a state of profound peace. It is 
true that there no longer exists here any organized resis- 
tance to the authority of the United States ; but a large 
majority of the white population who participated in the 
late rebellion are embittered against the Government by 
their defeat in arms and loss of their slaves, and yield to 
it an unwilling obedience only because they feel that they 
.have no means to resist its authority. None of this class 
has any affection for the Government, and very few of 
them have any respect for it. They regard the legisla- 
tion of Congress on the subject of reconstruction as un- 
constitutional and hostile to their interests, and consider 
the government now existing here under the authority 
of the United States as an usurpation upon their rights. 


They look upon the enfranchisement of their late slaves, 
and the disfranchisement of a portion of their own class, 
as an act of insult and oppression. 

" This state of feeling toward the Government and its 
acts, by a large majority of the white population who have 
heretofore exercised the political power of Texas, com- 
bined with the demoralization and impatience of re- 
straint by civil authority that always follow the close of 
great civil wars, renders it extremely difficult to enforce 
the criminal laws in those portions of the State which are 
most densely occupied, and often impossible to do so in 
those parts of the State which are sparsely settled. A 
knowledge of this state of affairs induces many to redress 
their fancied wrongs and grievances by acts of violence. 

"It is a lamentable fact, that over one hundred cases 
of homicide have occurred in Texas within the last twelve 
months, while not one tenth of the perpetrators have even 
been arrested, and less than one twentieth of them have 
been tried. 

" Within the last few months United States officers and 
soldiers have been killed while in the discharge of their 
duties, and in no case have those who committed these 
offenses been tried or punished. In these cases the most 
strenuous efforts were made by the military authorities to 
arrest the guilty parties, but without success, although 
they were well known. 

"It often happens, that, when the civil officers of a 
county are disposed to do their duty and endeavor to make 
arrests, they are unable to do so, because they are not 
properly sustained by the citizens of the county, and 
when arrests are made, a large proportion of the offenders 
escape from custody, because there are no secure jails for 
their confinement, and the county authorities have not the 


means to pay for proper guards. Several cases have come 
to my knowledge, in which sheriffs failed entirely to 
arrest parties who had been indicted, although they re- 
mained in the county for months. 

" Grand juries often fail to find indictments when 
they ought to do so, and petit juries as often fail to con- 
vict offenders in cases where the evidence is conclusive. 
Hence it results that, in many cases, offenders escape pun- 
ishment when the magistrates and sheriffs do their duty. 

" It is by no means charged that all who took part in 
the rebellion participate in or approve the many outrages 
and acts of violence which are perpetrated in Texas with- 
out punishment. A large majority disapprove and de- 
plore this state of affairs ; few of them, however, give 
any active aid in the enforcement of the criminal laws. 

" All good citizens feel and acknowledge that there is 
but little security for life in Texas, beyond what each 
man's personal character gives him. Many loyal citizens 
have expressed the opinion that it would have a good ef- 
fect upon the community, if some of the perpetrators of 
aggravated crimes like that in Uvalde County, where 
the difficulty of keeping the prisoners in confinement 
rendered it highly probable that they would escape, and 
where the sparseness of population made it so difficult to 
procure a jury, that it was considered almost certain that 
the parties would never be tried by the civil courts- 
should be brought before a military commission. In this 
opinion I fully concur ; and it was for this reason that I 
made the recommendation. 

" The condition of affairs here was much worse be- 
fore the establishment of the present military govern- 
ment than it has been since. The fear of an arrest by 
the military authorities and a trial by a military commis- 


sion has had some effect in deterring lawless men from 
the commission of crime. But I am constrained to say 
that, since the publication of General Orders, No. 40, of 
29th November, 1867, from Headquarters, Fifth Military 
District, there has been a perceptible increase of crime 
and manifestation of hostile feelings toward the Govern- 
ment and its supporters. 

" It is an unpleasant duty to give such a recital of the 
condition of the country. But the reports and correspond- 
ence on file in the offices of the Freedmen's Bureau and 
of the military commanders in Texas, since the close of 
the rebellion, will prove the truth of what is stated here. 

" In my communications with the previous command- 
ers of the Fifth Military District, orally and in writing, I 
have frequently given them my views in regard to the 
powers of the present civil provisional government of 
Texas, and also in regard to the condition of affairs here, 
and the great difficulty and sometimes impossibility of 
executing the laws for the prevention and punishment of 
crime and the preservation of the public peace. 

" If all these matters had been known to the Com- 
manding General of the Fifth Military District, his sur- 
prise might not have been excited that a civil magistrate 
of Texas, who is desirous to preserve peace and good order 
and to give security to person and life, should have ap- 
plied to him, as the chief officer to whom the government 
of Texas is entrusted by the laws of the United States, to 
do by military authority what experience has proved can 
not be effectually done by the civil officers of Texas, with 
the limited means and authority with which they are in- 
vested by law. I am, sir, with great respect, 

" Your obedient servant, 

" E. M. PEASE." 



NEW ORLEANS, LA., March 9, 1868. 
To His Excellency E. M. PEASE, Governor of Texas. 

SIE : Your communication of the 17th January last was received 
in due course of mail (the 27th January), but not until it had heen 
widely circulated hy the newspaper press. To such a letter writ- 
ten and published for manifest purposes it has been my intention 
to reply as soon as leisure from more important business would 

Your statement, that the act of Congress " to provide for the 
more efficient government of the Rebel States " declares that what- 
ever government existed in Texas was provisional ; that peace and 
order should be enforced ; that Texas should be part of the Fifth 
Military District, and subject to military power; that the President 
should appoint an officer to command in said district, and detail a 
force to protect the rights of person and property, suppress insur- 
rection and violence, and punish offenders, either by military com- 
mission, or through the action of local civil tribunals, as in his judg- 
ment might seem best, will not be disputed. One need only read 
the act to perceive it contains such provisions. But, how all this is 
supposed to have made it my duty to order the military commission 
requested, you have entirely failed to show. The power to do a 
thing, if shown, and the propriety of doing it, are often very dif- 
ferent matters. You observe you are at a loss to understand how a 
government, without representation in Congress or a militia force, 
and subject to military power, can be said to be in the full exercise 
of all its proper powers. You do not reflect that this government, 
created or permitted by Congress, has all the powers which the act 
intends, and may fully exercise them accordingly. If you think it 
ought to have more powers, should be allowed to send members to 
Congress, wield a militia force, and possess yet other powers, your 
complaint is not to be preferred against me, but against Congress, 
who made it what it is. 

As respects the issue between us, any question as to what Con- 
gress ought to have done has no pertinence. You admit the act of 
Congress authorizes me to try an offender by military commission, 
or allow the local civil tribunals to try, as I shall deem best ; and 
you can not deny the act expressly recognizes such local civil tribu- 
nals as legal authorities for the purpose specified. When you con- 


tend there are no legal local tribunals for any purpose in Texas, you 
must either deny the plain reading of the act of Congress, or the 
power of Congress to pass the act. 

You next remark that you dissent from my declaration, " that 
the country (Texas) is in a state of profound peace," and proceed to 
state the grounds of your dissent. They appear to me not a little 
extraordinary. I quote your words : " It is true there no longer 
exists here (Texas) any organized resistance to the authority of the 
United States, but a large majority of the white population who 
participated in the late rebellion are embittered against the Govern- 
ment, and yield to it an unwilling obedience." Nevertheless, you 
concede they do yield it obedience. You proceed : 

"None of this class have any affection for the Government, and 
very few any respect for it. They regard the legislation of Con- 
gress on the subject of reconstruction as unconstitutional and hos- 
tile to their interests, and consider the government now existing 
here under authority of the United States as a usurpation on their 
rights. They look on the emancipation of their late slaves and the 
disfranchisement of a portion of their own class as an act of insult 
and oppression." 

And this is all you have to present for proof that war and not 
peace prevails in Texas ; and hence it becomes my duty so you 
suppose to set aside the local civil tribunals, and enforce the penal 
code against citizens by means of military commissions. 

My dear sir, I am not a lawyer, nor has it been my business, 
as it may have been yours, to study the philosophy of statecraft 
and politics. But I may lay claim, after an experience of more 
than half a lifetime, to some poor knowledge of men, and some 
appreciation of what is necessary to social order and happiness. 
And for the future of our common country, I could devoutly wish 
that no great number of our people have yet fallen in with the 
views you appear to entertain. Woe be to us whenever it shall 
come to pass that the power of the magistrate civil or military 
is permitted to deal with the mere opinions or feelings of the 

I have been accustomed to believe that sentiments of respect or 
disrespect, and feelings of affection, love, or hatred, so long as not 
developed into acts in violation of law, were matters wholly be- 
yond the punitory power of human tribunals. 


I will maintain that the entire freedom of thought and speech, 
however acrimoniously indulged, is consistent with the noblest as- 
pirations of man and the happiest condition of his race. 

When a boy, I remember to have read a speech of Lord Chat- 
ham's, delivered in Parliament. It was during our Revolutionary 
War, and related to the policy of employing the savages on the side 
of Britain. You may be more familiar with the speech than I am. 
If I am not greatly mistaken, his lordship denounced the British 
Government his government in terms of unmeasured bitterness. 
He characterized its policy as revolting to every sentiment of hu- 
manity and religion; proclaimed it covered with disgrace, and 
vented his eternal abhorrence of it and its' measures. It may, I 
think, be safely asserted that a majority of the British nation con- 
curred in the views of Lord Chatham. But who ever supposed 
that profound peace was not existing in that kingdom, or that gov- 
ernment had any authority to question the absolute right of the 
opposition to express their objections to the propriety of the king's 
measures in any words, or to any extent they pleased? It would 
be difficult to show that the opponents of the Government in the 
days of the elder Adams, or Jefferson, or Jackson exhibited for it 
either "affection" or "respect." You are conversant with the 
history of our past parties and political struggles touching legisla- 
tion on alienage, sedition, the embargo, national banks, our wars 
with England and Mexico, and can not be ignorant of the fact that 
for one party to assert that a law or system of legislation is uncon- 
stitutional, oppressive, and usurpative is not a new thing in the 
United States. That the people of Texas consider acts of Congress 
unconstitutional, oppressive, or insulting to them, is of no conse- 
quence to the matter in hand. The President of the United States 
has announced his opinion that these acts of Congress are uncon- 
stitutional. The Supreme Court, as you are aware, not long ago 
decided unanimously that a certain military commission was uncon- 
stitutional. Our people everywhere, in every State, without refer- 
ence to the side they took during the rebellion, differ as to the con- 
stitutionality of these acts of Congress. How the matter really is, 
neither you nor I may dogmatically affirm. 

If you deem them constitutional laws, and beneficial to the 
country, you not only have the right to publish your opinions, but 
it might be your bounden duty as a citizen to do so. Not less is it 


the privilege and duty of any and every citizen, wherever residing, 
to publish his opinion freely and fearlessly on this and every ques- 
tion which he thinks concerns his interest. This is merely in ac- 
cordance with the principles of our free government ; and neither 
you nor I would wish to live under any other. It is time now, at 
the end of almost two years from the close of the war, we should 
begin to recollect what manner of people we are ; to tolerate again 
free, popular discussion, and extend some forbearance and consid- 
eration to opposing views. The maxims, that in all intellectual 
contests truth is mighty and must prevail, and that error is harm- 
less when reason is left free to combat it, are not only sound, but 
salutary. It is a poor compliment to the merits of such a cause, 
that its advocates would silence opposition by force ; and generally 
those only who are in the wrong will resort to this ungenerous 
means. I am confident you will not commit your serious judgment 
to the proposition that any amount of discussion, or any sort of 
opinions, however unwise in your judgment, or any assertion or 
feeling, however resentful or bitter, not resulting in a breach of 
law, can furnish justification for your denial that profound peace 
exists in Texas. You might as well deny that profound peace exists 
in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, California, Ohio, and Ken- 
tucky, where a majority of the people differ with a minority on 
these questions ; or that profound peace exists in the House of Eep- 
resentatives, or the Senate, at Washington, or in the Supreme 
Court, where all these questions have been repeatedly discussed, 
and parties respectfully and patiently heard. You next complain 
that in parts of the State (Texas) it is difficult to enforce the crimi- 
nal laws; that sheriffs fail to arrest; that grand jurors will not 
always indict; that in some cases the military acting in aid of the 
civil authorities have not been able to execute the process of the 
courts ; that petit jurors have acquitted persons adjudged guilty by 
you ; and that other persons charged with offences have broke jail 
and fled from prosecution. I know not how these things are ; but, 
admitting your representations literally true, if for such reasons I 
should set aside the local civil tribunals, and order a military com- 
mission, there is no place in the United States where it might not 
be done with equal propriety. There is not a State in the Union 
North or South where the like facts are not continually happen- 
ing. Perfection is not to be predicated of man or his works. No 


one can reasonbly expect certain and absolute justice in human 
transactions ; and if military power is to be set in motion, on the 
principles for which you would seem to contend, I fear that a civil 
government, regulated by laws, could have no abiding place beneath 
the circuit of the sun. It is rather more than hinted in your letter, 
that there is no local State government in Texas, and no local laws, 
outside of the acts of Congress, which I ought to respect ; and that 
I should undertake to protect the rights of persons and property in 
my own way and in an arbitrary manner. If such be your mean- 
ing, I am compelled to differ with you. After the abolition of sla- 
very (an event which I hope no one now regrets), the laws of Lou- 
isiana and Texas existing prior to the rebellion, and not in conflict 
with the acts of Congress, comprised a vast system of jurispru- 
dence, both civil and criminal. It required not volumes only, but 
libraries to contain them. They laid down principles and precedents 
for ascertaining the rights and adjusting the controversies of men, 
in every conceivable case. They were the creations of great and 
good and learned men, who had labored, in their day, for their 
kind, and gone down to the grave long before our recent troubles, 
leaving their works an inestimable legacy to the human race. 
These laws, as I am informed, connected the civilization of past 
and present ages, and testified of the justice, wisdom, humanity, 
and patriotism of more than one nation, through whose records 
they descended to the present people of these States. I am satis- 
fied, from representations of persons competent to judge, they are 
as perfect a system of laws as may be found elsewhere, and better 
suited than any other to the condition of this people, for by them 
they have long been governed. Why should it be supposed Con- 
gress has abolished these laws ? Why should any one wish to abol- 
ish them ? They have committed no treason, nor are hostile to the 
United States, nor countenance crime, nor favor injustice. On 
them, as on a foundation of rock, reposes almost the entire super- 
structure of social order in these two States. Annul this code of 
local laws, and there would be no longer any rights, either of per- 
son or property, here. Abolish the local civil tribunals made to 
execute . them, and you would virtually annul the laws, except in 
reference to the very few cases cognizable in the Federal courts. 
Let us for a moment suppose the whole local civil code annulled, 
and that I am left, as commander of the Fifth Military District, the 


sole fountain of law and justice. This is the position in which you 
would place me, 

I am now to protect all rights and redress all wrongs. How is 
it possible for me to do it ? Innumerable questions arise, of which I 
am not only ignorant, but to the solution of which a military court 
is entirely unfitted. One would establish a will, another a deed ; or 
the question is one of succession, or partnership, or descent, or trust ; 
a suit of ejectment or claim to chattels ; or the application may relate 
to robbery, theft, arson, or murder. How am I to take the first step 
in any such matter? If I turn to the acts of Congress I find no- 
thing on the subject. I dare not open the authors on the local code, 
for it has ceased to exist. 

And you tell me that in this perplexing condition I am to fur- 
nish, by dint of my own hasty and crude judgment, the legislation 
demanded by the vast and manifold interests of the people! I re- 
peat, sir, that you, and not Congress, are responsible for the mon- 
strous suggestion that there are no local laws or institutions here 
to be respected by me, outside the acts of Congress. I say, unhesi- 
tatingly, if it were possible that Congress should pass an act abolish- 
ing the local codes for Louisiana and Texas which I do not believe 
and it should fall to my lot to supply their places with something 
of my own, I do not see how I could do better than follow the laws 
in force here prior to the rebellion, excepting whatever therein shall 
relate to slavery. Power may destroy the forms, but not the princi- 
ples of justice; these will live in spite even of the sword. History 
tells us that the Roman Pandects were lost for a long period among 
the rubbish that war and revolution had heaped upon them, but at 
length were dug out of the ruins again to be regarded as a precious 

You are pleased to state that, " since the publication of (my) Gen- 
eral Orders, No. 40, there has been a perceptible increase of crime 
and manifestation of hostile feeling toward the Government and its 
supporters," and add that it is " an unpleasant duty to give such a 
recital of the condition of the country." 

You will permit me to say that I deem it impossible the first of 
these statements can be true, and that I do very greatly doubt the 
correctness of the second. General Orders, No. 40, was issued at New 
Orleans, November 29, 1867, and your letter was dated January 17, 
1868. Allowing time for Order No. 40 to reach Texas and become 


generally known, some additional time must have elapsed before its 
effect would be manifested, and a yet further time must transpire 
before you would be able to collect the evidence of what you term 
"the condition of the country "; and yet, after all this, you would 
have to make the necessary investigations to ascertain if Order No. 
40 or something else was the cause. The time, therefore, remaining 
to enable you, before the 17th of January, 1868, to reach a satisfac- 
tory conclusion on so delicate and nice a question must have been 
very short. How you proceeded, whether you investigated yourself 
or through third persons, and if so, who they were, what their com- 
petency and fairness, on what evidence you rested your conclusion, 
or whether you ascertained any facts at all, are points upon which 
your letter so discreetly omits all mention, that I may well be excused 
for not relying implicitly upon it ; nor is my difficulty diminished by 
the fact that, in another part of your letter, you state that ever since 
the close of the war a very large portion of the people have had no 
affection for the Government, but bitterness of feeling only. Had 
the duty of publishing and circulating through the country, long 
before it reached me, your statement that the action of the district 
commander was increasing crime and hostile feeling against the Gov*- 
ernment, been less painful to your sensibilities, it might possibly have 
occurred to you to furnish something on the subject in addition to 
your bare assertion. 

But what was Order No. 40, and how could it have the effect you 
attribute to it ? It sets forth that " the great principles of American 
liberty are still the inheritance of this people and ever should be, 
that the right of trial by jury, the habeas corpus, the liberty of the 
press, the freedom of speech, and the natural rights of person and 
property must be preserved." Will you question the truth of these 
declarations? "Which one of these great principles of liberty are you 
ready to deny and repudiate ? Whoever does so avows himself the 
enemy of human liberty and the advocate of despotism. Was there 
any intimation in General Orders, No. 40, that any crimes or breaches 
of law would be countenanced? You know that there was not. On 
the contrary, you know perfectly well that while " the consideration 
of crime and offences committed in the Fifth Military District was 
referred to the judgment of the regular civil tribunals," a pledge was 
given in Order No. 40, which all understood, that tribunals would be 
supported in their lawful jurisdiction, and that "forcible resistance 


to law would be instantly suppressed by arms." You will not affirm 
that this pledge has ever been forfeited. There has not been a 
moment, since I have been in command of the Fifth District, when 
the whole military force in my hands has not been ready to sup- 
port the civil authorities of Texas in the execution of the laws. 
And I am unwilling to believe they would refuse to call for aid if 
they needed it. 

There are some considerations which, it seems to me, should cause 
you to hesitate before indulging in wholesale censures against the 
civil authorities of Texas. You are yourself the chief of these author- 
ities, not elected by the people, but created by the military. Not 
long after you had thus come into office, all the judges of the Su- 
preme Court of Texas five in number were removed from office, 
and new appointments made : twelve of the seventeen district judges 
were removed, and others appointed. County officers, more or less, 
in seventy-five out of one hundred and twenty-eight counties, were 
removed, and others appointed in their places. It is fair to conclude 
that the executive and judicial civil functionaries in Texas are the 
persons whom you desired to fill the offices. It is proper to mention, 
also, that none but registered citizens, and only those who could take 
the test oath, have been allowed to serve as jurors during your 
administration. Now, it is against this local government, created by 
military power prior to my coming here, and so composed of your 
personal and political friends, that you have preferred the most 
grievous complaints. It is of them that you have asserted they will 
not do their duty ; they will not maintain justice ; will not arrest 
offenders ; will not punish crimes ; and that, out of one hundred 
homicides committed in the last twelve months, not over ten arrests 
have been made ; and by means of such gross disregard of duty you 
declare that neither property nor life is safe in Texas. 

Certainly you could have said nothing more to the discredit of 
the officials who are now in office. If the facts be as you allege, a 
mystery is presented for which I can imagine no explanation. Why 
is it that your political friends, backed up and sustained by the whole 
military power of the United States in this district, should be unwill- 
ing to enforce the laws against that part of the population lately 
in rebellion, and whom you represent as the offenders ? In all the 
history of these troubles, I have never seen or heard before of such 
a fact. I repeat, if the fact be so, it is a profound mystery, utterly 


surpassing my comprehension. I am constrained to declare that I 
believe you are in very great error as to facts. On careful examina- 
tion at the proper source, I find that at the date of your letter four 
cases only of Jhornicides had been reported to these headquarters 
as having occurred since November 29, 1867, the date of Order 40, 
and these cases were ordered to be tried or investigated as soon as 
the reports were received. However, the fact of the one hundred 
homicides may still be correct, as stated by you. The Freedmen's 
Bureau in Texas reported one hundred and sixty ; how many of these 
were by Indians and Mexicans, and how the remainder were classi- 
fied, is not known, nor is it known whether these data are accurate. 

The report of the commanding officer of the District of Texas 
shows that since I assumed command no applications have been 
made to him by you for the arrest of criminals in the State of Texas. 

To this date eighteen cases of homicides have been reported to 
me as having occurred since November 29, 1867, although special 
instructions had been given to report such cases as they occur. Of 
these, five were committed by Indians, one by a Mexican, one by an 
insane man, three by colored men, two of women by their husbands, 
and, of the remainder, some by parties unknown all of which could 
be scarcely attributable to Order No. 40. If the reports received 
since the issuing of Order No. 40 are correct, they exhibit no in- 
crease of homicides in my time, if you are correct that one hundred 
had occurred in the past twelve months. 

That there has not been a perfect administration of justice in 
Texas, I am not prepared to deny. 

That there has been no such wanton disregard of duty on the 
part of officials as you allege, I am well satisfied. A very little 
while ago you regarded the present officials in Texas as the only 
ones who could be safely trusted with power. Now you pronounce 
them worthless, and would cast them aside. 

I have found little else in your letter but indications of temper, 
lashed into excitement by causes which I deem mostly imaginary ; a 
great confidence in the accuracy of your own opinions, and an in- 
tolerance of the opinions of others ; a desire to punish the thoughts 
and feelings of those who differ from you ; and an impatience which 
magnifies the shortcomings of officials who are perhaps as earnest 
and conscientious in the discharge of their duties as yourself ; and a 
most unsound conclusion that, while any persons are to be found 


wanting in affection or respect for the government, or yielding it obe- 
dience from motives which you do not approve, war, and not peace, 
is the status, and all such persons are the proper subjects for military 
penal jurisdiction. 

If I have written anything to disabuse your mind of so grave an 
error, I shall be gratified. I am, sir, very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 

Major- Gen era I Commanding. 

It would seem that General Hancock's letter should 
have convinced every fair and law-loving man that it 
was wiser far to restore the civil tribunals to the effective 
administration of the existing laws than to inaugurate the 
dangerous expedient of military commissions which de- 
nied to accused persons the right of trial by jury, and 
the other forms of law which are such essentials of the 
civil administration of justice. 

By all that has been written here in the nature of 
history, and by the character of the orders issued by Gen- 
eral Hancock, and of the requests and demands made 
upon him, it will be seen that the administration of the 
affairs of the Fifth Military District was no sinecure, 
either for its commander or his staff. It was, on the con- 
trary, perplexing and laborious, and the perpetual demands 
made upon him for intervention, even in cases which he 
had referred to the civil tribunals and proper official 
functionaries, called for close attention and excessive 
labor, even as regarded the mere correspondence ; and per- 
haps no part of General Hancock's very active life was 
more wearing and vexatious than the few months passed 
in New Orleans. But certainly no portion of it, not even 
excepting the brilliant campaigns in which he won so 
much honor, exhibited more true greatness of mind, or a 


broader extent and variety of knowledge and of adminis- 
trative capacity. This portion of his career gained the 
confidence and elicited the applause of all fair and pa- 
triotic minds throughout the country, excepting only those 
whose personal and political schemes were thwarted by 
his unswerving adherence to the principles of honor, 
rectitude, and fair dealing. 

On the 18th of December, 186T, the following mes- 
sage was sent by the President of the United States to 
both Houses of Congress. It displays certainly in what 
estimate the services of General Hancock were held by 
the highest executive authority in the land : 

Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives : 

An official copy of the order issued by Major-General "Winfield 
S. Hancock, commander of the Fifth Military District, dated head- 
quarters in New Orleans, Louisiana, on the 29th day of November, 
has reached me through the regular channels of the War Depart- 
ment, and I herewith communicate it to Congress for such action 
as may seem to be proper in view of all the circumstances. 

It will be perceived that General Hancock announces that he 
will make the law the rule of his conduct ; that he will uphold the 
courts and other civil authorities in the performance of their proper 
duties, and that he will use his military power only to preserve the 
peace and enforce the law. He declares very explicitly that the sa- 
cred right of the trial by jury and the privilege of the writ of habeas 
corpus shall not be crushed out or trodden under foot. He goes fur- 
ther, and, in one comprehensive sentence, asserts that the principles 
of American liberty are still the inheritance of this people, and ever 
should be. 

"When a great soldier, with unrestricted power in his hands to 
oppress his fellow men, voluntarily foregoes the chance of gratifying 
his selfish ambition, and devotes himself to the duty of building up 
the liberties and strengthening the laws of his country, he presents 
an example of the highest public virtue that human nature is capa- 
ble of practicing. The strongest claim of Washington to be " first 


in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen," is 
founded on the great fact that in all his illustrious career he scrupu- 
lously abstained from violating the legal and constitutional rights of 
his fellow citizens. When he surrendered his commission to Con- 
gress, the President of that body spoke his highest praise in saying 
that he had " always regarded the rights of the civil authorities 
through all dangers and disasters." Whenever power above the law 
courted his acceptance, he calmly put the temptation aside. By 
such magnanimous acts of forbearance he won the universal admi- 
ration of mankind, and left a name which has no rival in the history 
of the world. 

I am far from saying that General Hancock is the only officer 
of the American army who is influenced by the example of Wash- 
ington. Doubtless thousands of them are faithfully devoted to the 
principles for which the men of the Revolution laid down their lives. 
But the distinguished honor belongs to him of being the first officer 
in high command south of the Potomac, since the close of the civil 
war, who has given utterance to these noble sentiments in the form 
of a military order. 

I respectfully suggest to Congress that some public recognition 
of General Hancock's patriotic conduct is due, if not to him, to the 
friends of law and justice throughout the country. Of such an act 
as his at such a time it is but fit that the dignity should be vindi- 
cated and the virtue proclaimed, so that its value as an example may 
not be lost to the nation. 


WASHINGTON, D. C., December 18, 1867. 

The effect of this message upon Congress was, of 
course, of the slightest; it served, however, to put on 
record, from its highest public exponent, the deep and 
wide-spread public opinion which was slowly formulat- 
ing itself toward a consummation of result, the nature of 
which will appear farther on in these pages. 

As a further contribution to the history of this period 
of General Hancock's career we insert the following 
letter : 



NEW ORLEANS, LA., February 24, 1868. 

MAJOR-GENERAL O. O. HOWARD, Commissioner of Bureau Refugees, 
Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, Washington, D. C. : 

GENERAL: Eeferring to the report of Captain E. Collins, Seven- 
teenth Infantry, sub-assistant commissioner of the bureau, refu- 
gees, freedmen, and abandoned lands, at Brenham, Texas, dated 
December 31, 1867, and transmitted by you for my information, 
I have the honor to state that I do not understand how any 
orders of mine can be interpreted as interfering with the proper 
execution of the law creating the bureau. It is certainly not my 
intention that they should so interfere. Anything complained of 
in that letter, which 'could have lawfully been remedied by the 
exercise of military authority, should have received the action 
of General Eeynolds, who, being military commander, and also 
Assistant-Commissioner for Texas, was the proper authority to 
apply the remedy, and to that end was vested with the necessary 

A copy of the report of Captain Collins had already been for- 
warded to me by General Keynolds, before the receipt of your com- 
munication, and had been returned to him on January 16, with the 
following endorsement : " Kespectfully returned to Brevet Major- 
General J. J. Keynolds, commanding District of Texas. 

"This paper seems to contain only vague and indefinite com- 
plaints, without specific action as to any particular cases. If Cap- 
tain Collins has any special cases, of the nature referred to in his 
communication, which require action at these headquarters, he can 
transmit them, and they will receive attention." 

No reply has been received to this a proof either of the non- 
existence of such special cases, or of neglect of duty on the part of 
Captain Collins in not reporting them. It is and will be my plea- 
sure, as well as duty, to aid you, and the officers and agents under 
your direction, in the proper execution of the law. I have just re- 
turned from a trip to Texas. "While there, I passed through Bren- 
hain twice, and saw Captain Collins, but neither from him nor from 
General Reynolds did I hear anything in regard to this subject, so 
far as I recollect. 

There are numerous abuses of authority on the part of certain 


agents of the bureau in Texas, and General Reynolds is already in- 
vestigating some of them. 

My intention is to confine the agents of the bureau within their 
legitimate authority, so far as my power as district commander ex- 
tends ; further than that, it is not my intention or desire to inter- 
fere with the Freedmen's Bureau. I can say, however, that, had 
the district commander a superior control over the freedmen's af- 
fairs in the district, the bureau would be as useful, and would work 
more harmoniously, and be more in favor with the people. At 
present there is a clashing of authority. I simply mention the facts 
without desiring any such control. 

The Reconstruction Acts charge district commanders with the 
duty of protecting all persons in their rights of person and prop- 
erty ; and to this end authorize them to allow local civil tribunals 
to take jurisdiction of and try offenders ; or, if in their opinion 
necessary, to organize a military commission or tribunal for that 

They are thus given control over all criminal proceedings for 
violation of the statute laws of the States, and for such other 
offenses as are not by law made triable by the United States 
courts. The Reconstruction Acts exempt no class of persons from 
their operation, and the duty of protecting all persons in their 
rights of person and property, of necessity, invests district com- 
manders with control over the agents of the bureau, to the ex- 
tent of at least enabling them to restrain these agents from any 
interference with or disregard of their prerogatives as district com- 

The district commanders are made responsible for the preserva- 
tion of peace and the enforcement of the local laws within their 
districts ; and they are the ones required to designate the tribunals 
before which those who break the peace and violate these laws shall 
be tried. 

Such being the fact, many of the agents of the bureau seem not 
to be aware of it. In Texas some are yet holding courts, trying 
cases, imposing fines, taking fees for services, and arresting citizens 
for offenses over which the bureau is not intended by law to have 

General Reynolds is aware of some of these cases, and is, as I 
have already mentioned, giving his attention to them. 


In Louisiana this state of affairs exists to a less extent, if at 
all. I am, General, very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 

Major- General U. 8. Army, Commanding. 

It was in the neighborhood of the time to which we 
have now arrived that it became matter of public conver- 
sation that some misunderstanding had arisen between 
General Grant and General Hancock. That such, to a 
certain extent, was the case, is as much a matter of his- 
tory as any other portion of this book. Into the nature 
and causes of this temporary disagreement it is unneces- 
sary to enter here. Gossip is not history. It is only 
necessary to say that these eminent soldiers sometimes 
differed upon pending questions, and with regard to the 
proper conduct of high official functions, and that their 
good understanding was for a time disturbed. In rela- 
tion to this, General Hancock once remarked to a friend : 
"The differences which arose between General Grant 
and myself were mainly, if not entirely, due to misrepre- 
sentations and exaggerations of the language and con- 
duct of both of us." Time and better information after- 
ward removed the mistaken impressions which had been 
formed, and the published remarks of General Grant and 
the frequent expressions in private of General Hancock 
give ample assurance that these ceased to exist. 

In conclusion of so much of this history as refers to 
the Fifth Military District, we will quote here from an 
article entitled " The Civil Record of General Hancock," 
published in the " Southern Review," for October, 1871 : 

"Absolutely refusing to comply with all such peti- 
tions (asking for arbitrary use of his military powers), he 


respects the rights of the people one and all, and confines 
the exercise of his unlimited powers within the sacred 
bounds of constitutional law and justice. We hail him, 
therefore, as a second "Washington, whom no amount of 
temptation can seduce from the path of conscious recti- 
tude. He would offend the powers that be, and will dis- 
gust his friends, if necessary, but he will not violate his 
own sense of right and justice and mercy. He is, in, 
fact, one of the few men who, in the history of our race, 
have shown themselves as firm and noble in the adminis- 
tration of civil justice as brave and heroic in the con- 
duct of their military campaigns. Hancock is a just 
man; a simple, massive, and heroic character, as calm 
and dispassionate in the formation of his opinions as he 
is firm and inflexible in his adherence to them. He is 
not to be driven from his convictions of right, because in 
the formation of them his great aim has been not exalta- 
tion of self, but his country's good. . . . 

"We admire this memorable state paper (letter to 
Governor Pease), because it stands out so grandly above 
the darkness of evil times and an almost universal defec- 
tion of principle, like some memorial of the olden time, 
when the regard for justice and the liberties of the peo- 
ple had a fixed abode in the hearts of statesmen." 


Division of the Atlantic 1868 Political Campaign General Hancock a 
Candidate for President The Glover Correspondence General Han- 
cock relieved, and ordered to Dakota The Indian Question Attack on 
the Piegans General Hancock again appointed to the Division of the 
Atlantic Presidential Election of 1872 General Hancock's Name 

FROM New Orleans General Hancock was appointed 
to the command of the Division of the Atlantic, which 
command he assumed March 31, 1868. This division was 
composed of three military departments, namely, the De- 
partment of the Lakes, that of the East, and that of Wash- 
ington. The first embraced the States of Ohio, Michigan, 
Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, with General John 
Pope commanding, headquarters at Detroit ; the second, 
the New England States, New York, New Jersey and 
Pennsylvania, General Irvin McDowell commanding, 
headquarters, New York ; and the third the District of 
Columbia, Maryland, and Delaware, General E. R. S. 
Canby commanding, headquarters at "Washington. 

The year 1868 is memorable in the life of General 
Hancock, for the reason of its being the occasion of his 
being named as a prominent candidate for the Dem- 
ocratic nomination for the Presidency of the United 
States. The Eepublican convention had met on the 
20th of May of that year, and- had nominated General 
Ulysses S. Grant for President, and Hon. Schuyler Col- 
fax for Vice-President. The Democratic convention 


assembled in the city of New York, July 4th. The bal- 
loting at this convention presented some strange political 
phenomena. There were twenty-one several ballots, Ho- 
ratio Seymour (who was ultimately nominated, in company 
with the Hon. Francis P. Blair, of Missouri, for Vice- 
President) received no votes until the fourth ballot, when 
he received nine, and he gained no increase on this until 
the last ballot, when he received 317 ; the highest vote 
received by Mr. Pendleton was on the eighth ballot, 156 ; 
the highest received by Mr. Hendricks was 162. General 
Hancock began with 33, rose to 13 1, and concluded, on 
the 18th ballot, with 144J. There were fewer than fif- 
teen names before the convention. 

The campaign which followed the two conventions 
was exciting, the conclusion being the election of General 
Grant by a popular vote of 3.015,071, against 2,709,613 
cast for Horatio Seymour, the electoral vote being 214 to 

It had never been General Hancock's habit to indulge 
in campaign work ; opportunities of voting, even, are rare 
for army officers, but he always maintained his citizenship 
in Pennsylvania as he does to this day. He could hardly, 
then, have been expected to enter with much vigor or 
personal effort into the canvass of 1868. A different view 
from this, however, appeared to strike the radical jour- 
nals of the time, for they bruited about the assertion that 
General Hancock was dissatisfied with the result of the 
National Democratic convention, and was personally in- 
active in the canvass for this reason. This gratuitous 
charge General Hancock would not in the least have seen 
fit to take into consideration, but that a warm personal 
friend of his, S. T. Glover, Esq., an eminent lawyer of 
St. Louis, addressed to him a letter of inquiry upon the 


subject. To this letter the General replied, and we give 
below the entire correspondence as reprinted from the 
"National Intelligencer" (Washington, D. C.), of July 

29, 1868. 

"Si. Louis, MISSOURI, July 13, 1868. 

" MAJOR-GENERAL HANCOCK : I deem it proper to di- 
rect your attention to statements made by the radical 
press to the effect that you are greatly dissatisfied with 
the results of the National Democratic convention. The 
object of these statements is to create an impression that 
you do not acquiesce in the judgment of the convention, 
that your friends do not, and, in consequence, Seymour 
and Blair will not have their cordial support. I wish you 
to know, General, that I have taken the liberty to pro- 
nounce these statements false, and to assure those who 
have spoken with me on the subject that nothing could 
cause you more regret than to find your friends, or any 
of them, less earnest in supporting the ticket which has 
been nominated than they would have been had your 
name stood in the place of Governor Seymour's. 
" I am, very sincerely, your friend, 

"S. T. GLOVEK." 


"NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND, July 17, 1868. 

"S. T. GLOVER, ESQ., St. Louis, Missouri: 

" MY DEAR SIR : I am greatly obliged for your favor 
of the 13th instant. Those who suppose that I do not 
acquiesce in the work of the National Democratic con- 
vention, or that I do not sincerely desire the election of 
its nominees, know very little of my character. Believ- 
ing, as I verily do, that the preservation of constitutional 
government eminently depends on the success of the 


Democratic party in the coming election, were I to hesi- 
tate in its cordial support I feel I should not only falsify 
my own record, but commit a crime against my country. 
I never aspired to the Presidency on account of myself. 
I never sought its doubtful honors and certain labors and 
responsibilities merely for the position. My only wish 
was to promote, if I could, the good of the country, and 
to rebuke the spirit of revolution which had invaded 
every sacred precinct of liberty. "When, therefore, you 
pronounced the statements in question false, you did ex- 
actly right. ' Principles and not men ' is the inotto for 
the rugged crisis in which we are now struggling. 

" Had I been made the Presidential nominee I should 
have considered it a tribute, not to me, but to principles 
which I had proclaimed and practiced ; but shall I cease to 
regard these principles because, by the judgment of mu- 
tual political friends, another has been appointed to put 
them in execution ? Never ! Never ! 

" These, sir, are my sentiments, whatever interested 
parties may say to the contrary ; and I desire that all 
may know and understand them. I shall ever hold in 
grateful remembrance the faithful friends who*, hailing 
from every section of the country, preferred me by 
their votes, and other expressions of confidence, both in 
and out of the convention, and shall do them all the justice 
to believe that they were governed by patriotic motives ; 
that they did not propose simply to aggrandize my per- 
sonal fortunes, but to serve their country through me, 
and that they will not now suffer anything like personal 
preferences or jealousies to stand between them and their 
manifest duty. I have the honor to be, dear sir, 
" Yery respectfully yours, 



General Hancock's report to the War Department for 
1869 was very brief, as no military operations of impor- 
tance occurred. On the 20th of March of that year, by 
General Orders, No. 10, Headquarters of the Army, Gen- 
eral Hancock was relieved from the command of the Di- 
vision of the Atlantic by General George G. Meade, and 
was ordered to the Department of Dakota. But being 
at this time a member of the " Dyer Court of Inquiry,"* 
then in session at the city of Washington, General Han- 
cock did not proceed to the northwest to assume com- 
mand of his new department until May 17, 1869. 

The duties devolving upon the General in this com- 
mand chiefly consisted in preserving peace and order 
among the numerous warlike Indian tribes inhabiting por- 
tions of the territory embraced in his department, the 
protection of settlers on the frontier, guarding and keep- 
ing open lines of travel, and furthering and protecting 
the work of the construction of railways at that time 
being built westward through the Department of Dakota 
toward the Pacific Coast. 

The Government having adopted the policy of set- 
tling the Indians on reservations, one object of keeping a 
military force in that region was to be ready for service 

* It was in reference to the court that the Secretary of War (General 
Schofield) addressed a letter to General Hancock, dated Washington, D. C , 
September 19, 1868, in which he says: 

" MY DEAR SIR : I am very sorry, indeed, to hear of your trouble with 
that old wound, and hope it will not prove so bad as you apprehend. I 
shall hardly know who to substitute on the court. I would rather postpone 
the day of meeting a short time than change the detail. Please let me 
know as soon as you can what the prospects are of your being able to go 
on, say in a week or two after the time, if not at the time appointed. 

" The President has given his consent for the removal of your head- 
quarters to New York." 


in case of outbreaks among the Indians, which it was ap- 
prehended might arise in the process of placing the sev- 
eral tribes in their respective reservations. ISTo outbreaks 
occurred, however, these doubtless being prevented by 
the presence of the troops. General Hancock accord- 
ingly distributed his men to stations where they might be 
most useful ; posts established by him with a view to con- 
trol the peaceful settlement of the Indians on their reser- 
vations and to preserve the general quiet. 

In May and June of 1869, he personally visited all 
these stations, and gave such directions and instructions 
as were required to insure the erection, before the advent 
of winter, of the necessary quarters and storehouses for 
the shelter of the troops and the storage of their provis- 
ions during the inclement season. 

A new post was established near Pembina, on the Red 
River of the North, in the vicinity of the point where that 
river crosses our northern boundary. Congress appropri- 
ated fifty thousand dollars for this purpose. Two com- 
panies were sent to Pembina and a fort was erected. 
Early in the fall General Hancock made a tour of inspec- 
tion extending as far as this point, and made a report in 
which he wrote in high terms of the character and pros- 
pective resources and value of the Red River country, re- 
commending that measures should be speedily inaugurated 
for authoritatively determining the boundary line be- 
tween us and the British possessions. 

During most of the time while in command of the De- 
partment of Dakota, General Hancock's headquarters 
were at St. Paul, Minnesota. He continued in that com- 
mand during the year 1871, its duties, though laborious 
and calling for constant vigilance, being generally barren 
of incident and furnishing little material for history. On 


November 25, 1872, he was again transferred to the com- 
mand of the Division of the Atlantic, with headquarters 
at New York, being in the city itself for several years, 
but in 1878 transferred to Governor's Island, New York 

The year 1872 witnessed another Presidential elec- 
tion, when General Grant was unanimously renominated 
by the Republican convention in Philadelphia, and Hor- 
ace Greeley by the Liberal Republicans and Democrats at 
their conventions in Cincinnati and Baltimore. At the 
election in November, General Grant was reflected by a 
popular vote of 3,579,070 against 2,834,079 for Horace 
Greeley, and 35,008 scattering, the entire electoral vote 
of 286 being for IT. S. Grant. 

In the consideration of the merits and availability 
of candidates for the Democratic nomination preced- 
ent to the nominating convention, General Hancock's 
name was again very generally and warmly considered. 
Pennsylvania, his native State, was solid in his favor, 
and there is no doubt that he would have made a good 
run for the nomination. But the political situation was 
peculiar, and even the shrewdest politicians in the Demo- 
cratic party were doubtful and inclined to hedge. The 
dissatisfaction in the Republican party, which had begun 
at this time and which continued thereafter to increase, 
offered inducements for a compromise candidate. Th 
selection of Horace Greeley was the result of the situa- 
tion ; and the ruin, insanity, and death of the eccentric 
but gifted Republican journalist became the sacrifice de- 
manded by his old-time party followers, for the high crime 
and misdemeanor of daring to identify himself with a 
movement in opposition to the mischief -making radical- 
ism which was now rampant. 


Some idea of the feeling in favor of Hancock at this 
time may be derived from the following quotation from 
an editorial published in the " St. Louis Republican," 
under date of September 4, 1871. In commenting upon 
the names of the Democratic candidates for the Presi- 
dency, this article says : 

" In the matter of general admirable, popular repu- 
tation, it is supposed that Hancock bears off the palm 
from all competitors. His name is inseparably and hon- 
orably connected with those great achievements of the 
war in which are bound up the affections of our Union 
soldiers, upon which their admiration is immovably fixed, 
and around which will cluster, while they breathe, all the 
honor and glory of their country. . . . His name is famil- 
iar to the hosts of our Union soldiery. Thousands and 
hundreds of thousands of those soldiers have known him 
personally. Which of the other gentlemen named for 
the Presidency can be compared with him in this ? . . . . 
It is also suggested that Hancock is favorably known to 
soldiers who fought on the side of the rebellion. There 
is something peculiar in the fact, yet the fact is undoubted, 
that honorable and brave men who fight each other, 
never so desperately, are more ready than others to be 
friends when the strife has ceased. Why may not Han- 
cock command the respect and admiration of Southern 
soldiers ? In him they behold the chevalier without f ear 
and without reproach the Union leader of all others 
the most terrible in the rush of battle, the most generous 
and magnanimous in victory." 

So also a writer in the " Boston Post," January 30, 
1872, in discussing the same subject said: "I need not 


speak of Hancock, the soldier statesman, whose generous 
and heroic spirit rolled back the tide of despotism, whose 
orders and letters are among the noblest appeals for the 
supremacy of civil law to be found in the annals of any 

But his hour had not yet come. The conservative 
influence of time would but enhance the brilliancy of his 
record, and he could afford to wait. 


Department of the Atlantic The Babcock Court of Inquiry General Han- 
cock's Address Presidential Election of 1876 The Disputed Count 
Popular Excitement The " Sherman Letter." 

THE position of Commander of the Division of the 
Atlantic, while sufficiently engrossing in the details ac- 
companying the control of so vast a territory practically 
covering the entire country east of the Mississippi, ex- 
cepting Illinois, and including Arkansas and that part of 
Louisiana west of the Mississippi has not, since the war, 
afforded material for thrilling narrative. Incidents have 
occurred, however, during the period in question, apart 
from the official duties entailed by the command, which 
are important in their relation to the life of General Han- 
cock, and to these we will now direct the attention of the 

At the close of the year 1875, General Babcock, pri- 
vate secretary to President Grant, fell under suspicion of 
complicity with certain frauds on the revenue, and, pend- 
ing whatever civil action might be taken, and at his own 
request, a Military Court of Inquiry was convened in 
Chicago on December 9th to investigate and pronounce 
upon his guilt or innocence in the premises. Upon this 
Court of Inquiry, of which Lieutenant-General Sheridan 
was president, were also appointed by President Grant 
Generals Hancock and Terry. 


The Court assembled on December 9th and adjourned 
until the following day. In the mean time the grand 
jury at St. Louis brought in a true bill of indictment 
against General Babcock. On the reassembling of the 
Court of Inquiry on the 10th, General Hancock rose, and 
addressed the Court in the following language : 

" A sense of duty to the laws, to the military service, 
and to the accused, impels me to ask your concurrence in 
a postponement of this inquiry for the present. We are 
all bound to believe in the entire innocence of Colonel 
Babcock, and the presumption can not be repelled without 
clear evidence. It is due to him to suppose that this 
Court of Inquiry was asked in good faith for the reasons 
given. "What were those reasons ? In the course of a 
legal trial in St. Louis, Colonel Babcock was alleged to 
be guilty of a high criminal offense. He asked for a 
hearing in the same court, but was informed he could not 
have it because the evidence was closed. Those circum- 
stances led him to demand a Court of Inquiry as the only 
means of vindication that was left. Since then he has 
been formally indicted, and he is now certain of getting 
that full and fair trial before an impartial jury which the 
laws of the country guarantee to all its citizens. The sup- 
posed necessity for convening a military court for the de- 
termination of his guilt or innocence no longer exists. It is 
believed that our action as a military tribunal can not oust 
the jurisdiction of the court while the indictment is pend- 
ing. The President has said through the Attorney-General 
that such was not the intention. Then the trial at St. 
Louis and this inquiry must go on at the same time. Un- 
less we await the result of the inquiry there, the difficul- 
ties are very formidable. The accused must be present at 


the trial of the indictment. Shall we proceed and hear 
the cause behind his back, or shall we vex him with two 
trials at once ? The injustice of this is manifest. I pre- 
sume, from the nature of the case, that the evidence is 
very voluminous, consisting of records, papers, and oral 
testimony. Can we compel the production of these while 
they are wanted for the purposes of the trial at St. Louis ? 
Certainly not, if the military be, as the Constitution de- 
clares, subordinate to the civil authorities. Shall we pro- 
ceed without evidence, and give an opinion in ignorance 
of the facts ? That can not be the wish of anybody. I 
take it for granted that the trial at St. Louis will be fair 
as well as legal, and that the judgment will be according 
to the very truth and justice of the cause. It will with- 
out question be binding and conclusive upon us, upon the 
Government, upon the accused, and upon all the world. 
If he should be convicted, no decision of ours could rescue 
him out of the hands of the law. If he is acquitted, our 
belief in his innocence will be of no consequence. If we 
anticipate the trial in the civil court, our judgment, 
whether for the accused or against him, will have, and 
ought to have, no effect upon the jurors. It can not even 
be made known to them, and any attempt to influence 
them by it would justly be regarded as an obstruction of 
public justice. On the other hand, his conviction there 
would be conclusive evidence of his guilt, and his acquit- 
tal will relieve him from the necessity of showing any- 
thing but the record. I do not propose to postpone in- 
definitely, but simply to adjourn from day to day, until 
the evidence upon the subject of our inquiry shall receive 
that definite and conclusive shape which will be impressed 
upon it by a verdict of the jury, or until our action, hav- 
ing been referred to the War Department, with our opin- 

ELECTION OF 1876. 34.5 

ion that our proceedings should be stayed during the pro- 
ceedings of the court of law, shall have been confirmed. 
In case of acquittal by the civil court, the functions of this 
Court will not necessarily have terminated. The accused 
may be pronounced innocent of any crime against the 
statute, and yet be guilty of some act which the military 
law might punish by expulsion from the army. In case 
of acquittal he may insist upon showing to us that he has 
done nothing inconsistent with the conduct of an officer 
and gentleman, as the Article of "War runs, but the great 
and important question is, guilty or not in manner and 
form, as he stands indicted and this can be legally an- 
swered only by a jury of his country." 

Immediately on the conclusion of this address, the 
Court of Inquiry adjourned, in full accord with its sense 
and motive. 

This occasion and the course of General Hancock in 
regard to it afford one other illustration of the spirit of 
subordination to the civil law which has characterized 
the General throughout his public life. It also affords 
renewed evidence if any were needed of the keen in- 
sight into the relations of civil and military authority 
with which he is preeminently gifted, and of his clear 
and convincing method of expressing his views on all oc- 
casions when perspicuity is a needed virtue.* 

This brings us to the year 1876, when a new Presi- 
dential election by the manner of its conduct, by the 
vast and engrossing interests at stake, and by the extreme 
point to which party rancor and political excitement 
were permitted to reach threatened danger to the con- 

* It is due to General Babcock to state that in the trial at St. Louis he 
was acquitted. 


stitutional structure of the Union, and lighted anew the 
iires of sectional hatred. 

It is no part of this history to recount the incidents 
of this exciting period. By a fair half of the population 
of the country it was religiously believed that Samuel 
J. Tilden had been elected to the high office of Presi- 
dent of the United States ; by the remaining moiety it 
was vigorously claimed that Rutherford B. Hayes had 
achieved this triumph. The official count showed a popu- 
lar majority of a quarter of a million in favor of Mr. Til- 
den. In the Electoral College the question turned on the 
just possession by one candidate or the other of a single 
vote. "Wise men stumbled when brought to encounter 
this new factor in a republican system of government ; 
good men were appalled at the possible consequences of 
a decision either way. Daring not to conclude the gov- 
ernment of more than forty millions of free people on 
the basis of what evidence was available, those in whose 
hands the terrible responsibility rested had recourse to 
the old-time refuge of daunted public leaders a com- 
promise. An " Electoral Commission " was evoked out 
of nothing, an extra-constitutional act ; and, by the mem- 
orable vote of "eight to seven," this anomalous body 
declared Rutherford B. Hayes to have received one hun- 
dred and eighty-five, and Samuel J. Tilden one hundred 
and eighty-four of the electoral votes cast for President of 
the United States and President Hayes entered upon the 
occupancy of the office and the performance of its duties. 

But, in this republican and free country, no such vast 
and organic disturbance in the body politic could by pos- 
sibility occur without shaking to its crown the substance 
of public opinion ; without permeating with its terrible 
and sardonic questioning every stratum of society. And 


it befell that, from the highest to the lowest man, woman, 
and child ; the millionaire capitalist in the metropolis and 
the Georgia " cracker " ; the ex-slave working his own bit 
of a cotton-field ; the old-fashioned conservative Missis- 
sippi planter ; the Irish-American and the German- Amer- 
ican with one and all, the question paramount occupied 
all minds and hearts, and deferred all other questions until 
its settlement should be effected. 

And naturally it befell that the soldier whether he 
had worn the gray or the blue became engrossed with 
the rest in this new and suddenly awakened tempest of 
inquiry. But to those officers of the United States Army 
men who had swayed its fortunes and the fortunes of 
the country from Alexandria to Appomattox ; those who 
stood high in rank, and held in charge a fealty to free- 
dom, to the Constitution, and to the Union that only 
death could loosen; to those great captains in the war 
who still in peace held watch and ward over the safety 
and honor of their country the questions that were rend- 
ing the fabric of our republicanism in 1876 appealed 
with stern and unrelenting mastery, and would not be 

And, as a part of the history of those troublous 
times, General "W. T. Sherman addressed in conference 
Major-General Winfield Scott Hancock, which act brought 
about a correspondence which we are now permitted to 
lay before our readers. Prominent in this correspon- 
dence will be found the important letter of General Han- 
cock from Carondelet a letter which lay for four years 
silent, to speak at last in loud reply to whispered slanders 
and contemptuous reference, with such force of right- 
eous purpose, and with such dignity of manly power 
and knowledge, as to send hurtling back among a crowd 


of defamers tlie paper pellets of libel and defamation 
changed to fiery missiles of shaming and condemnation. 

General Hancock's letter was written at a time while 
lie was alone, attending to family affairs, at Carondelet, 
without an amanuensis, and was copied by the General 
himself, the first draft being unpresentable. In the course 
of the campaign of 1880 some knowledge of the writing of 
this letter was brought to the Republican press, and charges 
were at once instigated in that quarter, to the effect that 
the communication to General Sherman had been of a 
treasonable character, and was calculated, if made public, 
to damage the reputation of its writer as a soldier and a 
patriot ; this, too> in entire disregard of the contingent 
insult inflicted upon the noble soldier and gentleman to 
whom the letter was written, by the judgment that he 
could by any possibility have agreed in a traitorous cor- 
respondence with the hero of Gettysburg. With such 
blindness in seasons of political excitement are stricken 
those to whom politics is a profession and the honor and 
progress of their country a pecuniary interest alone. 


The Sherman-Hancock Correspondence Telegram from General Sherman 
General Sherman's Letter of December 4, 1876 Hancock to Sherman ; 
Leave of Absence General Sherman's Letter of December 17, 1876: 
A Newspaper Story General Hancock's Letter from Carondelet Tele- 
gram : Hancock to Sherman General Sherman's Letter of January 2, 
1877 ; Reply to the Carondelet Letter Hancock to Sherman : Contem- 
plated Uprising Hancock to Sherman Hancock to the Editor of the 
" World " Hancock to Sherman : the Electoral Commission Sher- 
man to Hancock : January 29, 1877. 

[TiiE publishers acknowledge the courtesy of the 
General of the Army in furnishing them with the fol- 
lowing correspondence upon their solicitation. This 
is exclusive of the letter of December 28th from Caron- 
delet, which was given to the public through the enter- 
prise of the editor of the New York " World," who 
dispatched a special messenger to General Sherman, in 
Dakota, to obtain the necessary permission.] 



"WASHINGTON, D. C., December 4, 1876. 

" To GENERAL W. S. HANCOCK, Commanding Division 

of the Atlantic, New York City. 
" You can take your leave now the time is appro- 

(Signed) U W. T. SHERMAN, General. 

"A true copy. 
" Jxo. M. BACON, Colonel and A. D. C." 



"WASHINGTON, D. C., December 4, 1876. 

" GENERAL W. S. HANCOCK, New York City. 

" DEAR GENERAL : I have just received your letter of 
the 3d, and have telegraphed you my consent to your 
proposed trip. I can not foresee any objections, and 
hope soon, that events will admit of the return to their 
posts of the companies detached at the South ; but every 
time I make a move in that direction I am met by insur- 
mountable objections. Three of the companies of the 
First Artillery from Fort Sill reported at Columbus, Ohio, 
yesterday, and will be here this evening. Everything is 
ready for them. The last company, I suppose, was de- 
tained at Sill to await the relief on the way. Tell Gen- 
eral Fry (Adjutant- General) that, in case of any orders, I 
will have them sent to you at New York, and he can exe- 
cute them. The political orders to Ruger at Columbia I 
preferred should go from the President to him through 
the Secretary of War. They were not military. I dislike 
much to have our soldiers used in connection with a legis- 
lative body, but orders coming from the President have 
to be obeyed. They form a bad precedent, but thus far 
have prevented a collision of arms between inflamed par- 

" I trust you will find Mrs. Hancock and your St. 
Louis friends well. 

" Truly yours, 
(Signed) " W. T. SHERMAN, General. 

" A true copy. 
" JNO. M. BACOX, Colonel and A. D. C." 



" NEW YORK, December 6, 1876. 

"TiiE ADJUTANT GENERAL, U. S. Army, Washington, 

z>. a 

" SIR : I have the honor to inform you that I leave 
New York this evening for St. Louis for a short absence 
by permission of the General of the Army. 

" My post-office address, while absent, will be Caron- 
delet P. O., South St. Louis, Mo., and my telegraphic 
address will be 'care of Commanding Officer, St. Louis 
Arsenal, Jefferson Barracks, Mo.' 

" Yery respectfully, your obedient servant, 

" Major- General Commanding. 

"A. true copy. 
" JOHN M. BACON, Colonel and A. D. <7." 


"WASHINGTON, D. C., December 17, 1876. 

" GENERAL "W. S. HANCOCK, Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. 

" MY DEAR GENERAL : Lest your peace of mind may 
be disturbed by the foolish report, bandied in the news- 
papers, about your being ordered from New York, I will 
tell you that there is not a word of truth in it. 

" Neither the President nor Secretary of War has ever 
intimated to me such a purpose, and I know I have never 
said a word or written a syllable to the effect. 

" I see in the ' Republican ' (of St. Louis) that not only 
was the order made, but that I destroyed it and tore out 
the leaves of the record book containing the copy. The 
whole thing was, and is, an invention by somebody who 
wanted to create a sensation. The same is true about 
John Sherman intriguing to be President of the Senate, 


that he might be President ad interim. He has told me 
that he has never heard the subject broached ; that he 
would not accept the place, as he prefers to be what he 
is now, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance. 
I hope you find the family in good health and spirits, 
and I hope you will spend with me a peaceful and happy 
week of holidays. This letter may be superfluous, but 
the emphatic repetitions of a wild rumor in the * St. Louis 
Republican ' suggested to me the propriety of my correct- 
ing an impression, if made on you. 

" No serious changes in command are being contem- 
plated ; and, when they are, you may be sure that I will 
give you the earliest notice. There are men, on mischief 
intent, who would gladly sow the seeds of dissension 
among us of the army. 

" Truly your friend, 
(Signed) " W. T. SHERMAN. 

u A true copy. 
" JNO. M. BACON, Colonel and A. D. " 

" CARONDELET P. 0., ST. Louis, Mo., 

"December 28, 1876. 

"To GENEEAL W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Army of 

the United States, Washington, D. C. 
" MY DEAE GENEEAL : Your favor of the 4th instant 
reached me in New York on the 5th, the day before I left 
for the West. I intended to reply to it before leaving, 
but cares incident to departure interfered. Then again, 
since my arrival here, I have been so occupied with per- 
sonal affairs of a business nature that I have deferred 
writing from day to day until this moment, and now I 
find myself in debt to you another letter in acknowledg- 
ment of your favor of the 17th, received a few days since. 


" I have concluded to leave here on the 29th (to-mor- 
row) P. M., so that I may be expected in New York on 
the 31st inst. It has been cold and dreary since my arri- 
val here. I have worked ' like a Turk ' (I presume that 
means hard work) in the country, in making fences, cut- 
ting down trees, and repairing buildings, and am at least 
able to say that St. Louis is the coldest place in the win- 
ter, as it is the hottest in the summer, of any that I 
have encountered in a temperate zone. I have known 
St. Louis in December to have genial weather throughout 
the month ; this December has been frigid, and the river 
has been frozen more solid than I have ever known it. 

" When I heard the rumor that I was ordered to the 
Pacific coast, I thought it probably true, considering the 
past discussion on that subject. The possibilities seemed 
to me to point that way. Had it been true, I should, of 
course, have presented no complaint nor made resistance 
of any kind. I would have gone quietly, if not prepared 
to go promptly. I certainly would have been relieved 
from the responsibility and anxieties concerning Presi- 
dential matters, which may fall to those " near the throne " 
or in authority within the next few months, as well as 
from other incidents or matters which I could not con- 
trol, and the action concerning which I might not approve. 
I was not exactly prepared to go to the Pacific, however, 
and I therefore felt relieved when I received your note 
informing me that there was no truth in the rumors. 

" Then I did not wish to appear to be escaping from 
responsibilities and possible dangers which may cluster 
around military commanders in the East, especially in the 
critical period fast approaching. < All's well that ends 
well.' The whole matter of the Presidency seems to me 
to be simple and to admit of a peaceful solution. The 


machinery for siich a contingency as threatens to present 
itself has been all carefully prepared. It only requires 
lubrication, owing to disuse. The army should have 
nothing to do with the selection or inauguration of Presi- 
dents. The people elect the President. The Congress 
declares in a joint session who he is. "We of the army 
have only to obey his mandates, and are protected in so 
doing only so far as they may be lawful. Our commis- 
sions express that. I like Jefferson's way of inaugura- 
tion ; it suits our system. He rode alone on horseback 
to the Capitol (I fear it was the 'Old Capitol'), tied his 
horse to a rail fence, entered, and was duly sworn, then 
rode to the Executive Mansion and took possession. He 
inaugurated himself simply by taking the oath of office. 
There is no other legal inauguration in our system. The 
people or politicians may institute parades in honor of 
the event, and public officials may add to the pageant by 
assembling troops and banners, but all that only comes 
properly after the inauguration not before ; and it is 
not a part of it. Our system does not provide that one 
President should inaugurate another. There might be 
danger in that, and it was studiously left out of the char- 
ter. But you are placed in an exceptionally important 
position in connection with coming events. The capital 
is in my jurisdiction also, but I am a subordinate, and 
not on the spot, and, if I were, so also would be my supe- 
rior in authority, for there is the station of the general- 

" On the principle that a regularly elected President's 
term of office expires with the 3d of March (of which I 
have not the slightest doubt), and which the laws bearing 
on the subject uniformly recognize, and in consideration 
of the possibility that the lawfully elected President may 


not appear until the 5th of March, a great deal of respon- 
sibility may necessarily fall upon you. You hold over ! 
You will have power and prestige to support you. The 
Secretary of War, too, probably holds over ; but, if no 
President appears, he may not be able to exercise func- 
tions in the name of a President, for his proper acts are 
those of a known superior a lawful President. You 
act on your own responsibility, and by virtue of a com- 
mission only restricted by the law. The Secretary of 
War is the mouthpiece of a President. You are not. 
If neither candidate has a constitutional majority of the 
Electoral College, or the Senate and House on the occa- 
sion of the count do not unite in declaring some person 
legally elected by the people, there is a lawful machinery 
already provided to meet that contingency and to decide 
the question peacefully. It has not been recently used, 
no occasion presenting itself, but our forefathers provided 
it. It has been exercised, and has been recognized and 
submitted to as lawful on every hand. That machinery 
would probably elect Mr. Tilden President, and Mr. 
Wheeler Yice-President. That would be right enough, 
for the law provides that, in a failure to elect duly by the 
people, the House shall immediately elect the President, 
and the Senate the Yice-President. Some tribunal must 
decide whether the people have duly elected a President. 
I presume, of course, that it is in the joint affirmative ac- 
tion of the Senate and House, or why are they present to 
witness the count if not to see that it is fair and just ? 
If a failure to agree arises between the two bodies, there 
can be no lawful affirmative decision that the people have 
elected a President, and the House must then proceed to 
act, not the Senate. The Senate elects Yice-Presidents, 
not Presidents. Doubtless, in case of a failure by the 


House to elect a President by the 4th of March, the 
President of the Senate (if there be one) would be the 
legitimate person to exercise Presidential authority for 
the time being, or until the appearance of a lawful Presi- 
dent, or for the time laid down in the Constitution. 
Such courses would be peaceful, and, I have a firm be- 
lief, lawful. 

" I have no doubt Governor Hayes would make an ex- 
cellent President. I have met him and know of him. 
For a brief period he served under my command ; but, as 
the matter stands, I can't see any likelihood of his being 
duly declared elected by the people, unless the Senate and 
House come to be in accord as to that fact, and the 
House would, of course, not otherwise elect him. What 
the people want is a peaceful determination of this mat- 
ter, as fair a determination as possible, and a lawful one. 
No other determination could stand the test. The coun- 
try, if not plunged into revolution, would become poorer 
day by day, business would languish, and our bonds 
would come home to find a depreciated market. 

" I was not in favor of the military action in South 
Carolina recently, and, it General Ruger had telegraphed 
to me or asked for advice, I would have advised him not, 
under any circumstances, to allow himself or his troops 
to determine who were the lawful members of a State 
Legislature. I could have given him no better advice than 
to refer him to the special message of the President in 
the case of Louisiana some time before. 

"But, in South Carolina, he had the question set- 
tled by a decision of the Supreme Court of the State 
the highest tribunal which had acted on the question- 
so that his line of duty seemed even to be clearer than 
the action in the Louisiana case. If the Federal court 


had interfered and overruled the decision of the State 
court, there might have been a doubt, certainly ; but the 
Federal court only interfered to complicate not to de- 
cide or overrule. 

" Anyhow, it is no business of the army to enter upon 
such questions, and even if it might be so in any event, 
if the civil authority is supreme, as the Constitution de- 
clares it to be, the South Carolina case was one in which 
the army had a plain duty. 

" Had General Ruger asked me for advice, and if I had 
given it, I should of course have notified you of my action 
immediately, so that it could have been promptly over- 
ruled if it should have been deemed advisable by you or 
other superior authority. General Ruger did not ask 
for my advice, and I inferred from that and other facts 
that he did not desire it, or being in direct communi- 
cation with my military superiors at the seat of Gov- 
ernment, w r ho were nearer to him in time and distance 
than I was he deemed it unnecessary. As General 
Ruger had the ultimate responsibility of action, and had 
really the greater danger to confront in the final action in 
the matter, I did not venture to embarrass him by sugges- 
tions. He was a Department Commander, and the law- 
ful head of the military administration within the limits 
of the Department ; besides, I knew that he had been 
called to Washington for consultation before taking com- 
mand, and was probably aware of the views of the Ad- 
ministration as to civil affairs in his command. I knew 
that he was in direct communication with my superiors 
in authority in reference to the delicate subjects present- 
ed for his consideration, or had ideas of his own which he 
believed to be sufficiently in accord with the views of our 
common superiors to enable him to act intelligently ac- 


cording to his judgment, and without suggestions from 
those not on the spot and not so fully acquainted with 
the facts as himself. He desired, too, to be free to act, as 
he had the eventual greater responsibility, and so the 
matter was governed as between him and myself. 

" As I have been writing thus freely to you, I may 
still further unbosom myself by stating that I have not 
thought it lawful or wise to use Federal troops in such 
matters as have transpired east of the Mississippi within 
the last few months, save as far as they may be brought 
into action under the Constitution, which contemplates 
meeting armed resistance or invasion of a State more 
powerful than the State authorities can subdue by the or- 
dinary processes, and then only when requested by the 
Legislature, or, if it could not be convened in season, by 
the Governor; and when the President of the United 
States intervenes in that manner it is a state of war, not 

" The army is laboring under disadvantages, and has 
been used unlawfully at times, in the judgment of the 
people (in mine certainly), and we have lost a great deal 
of the kindly feeling which the community at large once 
felt for us. It is time to stop and unload. 

" Officers in command of troops often find it difficult 
to act wisely and safely when superiors in authority have 
different views of the law from theirs, and when legisla- 
tion has sanctioned action seemingly in conflict with the 
fundamental law, and they generally defer to the known 
judgment of their superiors. Yet the superior officers of 
the army are so regarded in such great crises, and are 
held to such responsibility, especially those at or near the 
head of it, that it is necessary on such momentous occa- 
sions to dare to determine for themselves what is lawful 


and what is not lawful under our system, if the military 
authorities should be invoked, as might possibly be the 
case in such exceptional times when there existed such di- 
vergent views as to the correct result. The army will 
suffer from its past action if it has acted wrongfully. 
Our regular army has little hold upon the affections of 
the people of to-day, and its superior officers should cer- 
tainly, as far as lies in their power, legally and with 
righteous intent, aim to defend the right, which to us is 
THE LAW, and the institution which they represent. It is 
a well-meaning institution, and it would be well if it 
should have an opportunity to be recognized as a bul- 
wark in support of the rights of the people and of THE 
LAW. I am truly yours, 



" Commanding Army of the United States, Washington, D. C" 


" ST. Louis ARSENAL, Mo., December 29, 1876. 

"To GENERAL "W. T. SHERMAN, U. S. A., Washington, 

D. C. 

" I leave this evening for New York. 
(Signed) " HANCOCK, 

" Major- General. 
"A trite copy. 
" JNO. M. BACON, Colonel and A. D. <?." 


" WASHINGTON, D. C., January 2, L877. 

" GENERAL "W. S. HANCOCK, New York. 

" DEAR GENERAL : I did not receive your most in- 
teresting letter of December 28th, from Carondelet, Mo., 
till yesterday. I am very glad to have your views in 


extenso upon subjects of such vital importance. Our 
standard opinions are mostly formed on the practice of 
our predecessors ; but a great change was made after the 
close of the civil war, by the amendments of the Con- 
stitution giving to the freed slaves certain civil and politi- 
cal rights, and empowering Congress to make the laws 
necessary to enforce these rights. This power is new and 
absolute, and Congress has enacted laws with which we 
are not yet familiar and accustomed. See pages 348, 349, 
and 350, Eevised Statutes (Section 1989), Edition 1873-'4. 

" As a matter of fact, I dislike to have our army used 
in these civil conflicts, but the President has the lawful 
right to use the army and navy, and has exercised the 
right, as he believes, lawfully and rightfully, and our duty 
has been, and is, to sustain him with zeal and sincerity. 

" As to the Presidential election, we are in no manner 
required to take the least action, but to recognize him as 
President whom the lawfully appointed officers declare to 
be such person. I hope and pray that the Congress will 
agree on some method before the day and hour arrive. 
But, in case of failure to elect by or before the 4th of 
March, there will be a vacancy in 'both offices of President 
and Yice-President, in which event the President of the 
Senate becomes President pro tempore, and a new election 
will have to be held under the law of 1792. See Title 
III., chap. I., pages 21, 22, and 23, Eevised Statutes. 

" It is well we should compare notes and agree before 
the crisis is on us ; but I surely hope we may pass this 
ordeal safely and peacefully. 

" I will be pleased to hear from you at any time. 
(Signed) "W. T. SHEKMAN." 

" A true copy. 
"JNO. M. BACON, Colonel and A. D. <7." 



"NEW YORK, January 2, 1877. 

" GENERAL W. T. SHERMAN, United States Army, Wash- 
ington, D. 0. 

" GENERAL : An anonymous communication to the 
Secretary of War, dated Louisville, Kentucky, December 
16, 1876, reached my headquarters on the 27th of that 
month, from the office of the Adjutant-General of the 

" It represents that, c in the contemplated uprising of 
the people to enforce the inauguration of Tilden and 
Hendricks, the depot at Jeffersonville is to be seized, and 
is expected to arm and clothe the Indiana army of Demo- 

" The endorsement on _ this communication, made at 
your headquarters, dated December 26, 1876, is as fol- 
lows : 

" c Official copy respectfully referred to Major-Gen- 
eral W. S. Hancock, Commanding Division of the Atlan- 
tic, who may draw a company from General Ruger, 
Commanding Department of the South, and post it at the 
Jeffersonville depot, with orders to protect it against any 

" The terms of the endorsement imply an exercise of 
discretion on my part, which leads me to write you before 
taking action. 

" In my judgment there is no danger of the kind the 
anonymous communication sets forth, or other kind, at 
Jeffersonville depot to justify a movement of troops to 
that place. Such a movement, it seems to me, would in- 
volve unnecessary expense, and would create or increase 
apprehension for which there is no real foundation. 

" There are no arms or ammunition at the Jefferson- 



ville depot, and, if such a force as is referred to could 
be raised for rebellious purposes, it is not likely that it 
would begin by seizing a depot of army uniforms ; and, 
therefore, if there are grounds for action of the Govern- 
ment, I see no danger in the delay which will result from 
this presentation of the subject to you. 

"If, however, in your better judgment, a company 
should be sent there, it shall be promptly done as soon 
as you notify me to that effect. As I have already said, 
I do not act at once, because in your instructions you say 
I 'may' send a company there, which I construe as 
leaving it somewhat discretionary with me. 

"I returned on the 31st of December, 1876, from St. 

" I am, very truly yours, 

" Major- General Commanding. 
"A true copy. 
"JNO. M. BACON, Colonel and A. D. <7." 

YORK, January 9, 1877. 

" GENERAL "W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding U. S. Army, 
Washington, D. C. 

" MY DEAR GENERAL : I have been intending to write 
to you in acknowledgment of your two recent notes, but 
I have been so much engaged in hunting a place for the 
winter and < gathering ' up my affairs of business as well 
as personal matters, owing to my recent absence, that I 
have deferred doing so. 

" Now I write to inclose you a copy of a letter I ad- 
dressed yesterday to the editor of the ' World,' in refer- 
ence to an article (special dispatch) which appeared in 
that paper on Sunday, the 7th. The < World' corrects 


the matter in its issue of this morning. I would have 
preferred the publication of my letter, but, as I gave the 
editor latitude as to the manner of correction, I can not 
complain, I suppose. 

" I have written to no one on the subject of my order 
to go to the Pacific reported by the newspapers save 
yourself. I have said nothing to any one differing in 
letter or spirit from what I wrote to you ; and I have not 
seen "Buford for years, or heard of him, nor do I know of 
any person who has, in that time, met or communicated 
with him. 

" I inclose you a copy of the ' "World's ' publication. 

" I am, very truly yours, 

" Major- General. 
"A true copy. 
" JNO. M. BAOOX, Colonel and A. D. ". 


"NEW YORK, January 8, 1877. 

" MY DEAR SIK : I inclose a slip cut from the ' World ' 
of yesterday (a special dispatch from "Washington) 
headed : 


" Did General Hancock refuse to be transferred to 
the Pacific coast ? 

" As an authority is given for the communication, it 
seems that I should publicly notice the same, and it 
would gratify me if you would, in the manner you may 
deem best, make such correction as would be most likely 
to remove any misapprehension on the subject. 

" I have not received any orders transferring me from 
this station, nor any intimation of the existence or con- 
templation of such orders. Hence, I did not refuse to be 


transferred to the Pacific coast. I have not tendered my 
resignation. All of my information in the matter has 
been derived from the newspapers of the day. I had no 
communication whatever relating to the subject with the 
authorities until after the rumor of my removal was pub- 
lished from Washington as groundless. Then General 
Sherman wrote me a note to the same effect. 

" I am in no wise responsible for any statement con- 
tained in the dispatch in question, or for any misconcep- 
tion which has arisen concerning this subject from first 
to last. 

" I am, very truly yours, 


" To Mr. WILLIAM II. HURLBURT, Editor New Yorlc ' World, 1 No. 32 
Wcwerly Place, New York. 

" A true copy. 
(Signed) "JOHN S. WHARTON. 

" A true copy. 
" JNO. M. BACON, Colonel and A. D. C." 

"NEW YORK, January 19, 1877. 

" GENERAL "W. T. SHERMAN, United States Army, Wash- 
ington, D. C. 

" MY DEAR GENERAL : I have been quite busy since my 
arrival, and have not felt like writing much, so that I 
have not yet written to you as I intended, in reply to 
your favor acknowledging receipt of my letter from Ca- 
rondelet. I wished to notice simply your reference to 
the Revised Statutes, and one or two other points, in a 
brief way. I will do so yet, but not to day, as I am 
house-hunting, or apartment or hotel hunting rather. 
It is too late in the season to accomplish much here in 
that way save to pay out money and get but little satis- 
faction in return. 


" The proposition for the joint committee insures a 
peaceful solution of the Presidential question if it becomes 
a law, and, in my opinion, gives to General Hayes chances 
he did not have before. I have considered that Mr. Til- 
den's chances were impregnable. . . . Not so Mr. Hen- 
dricks's. Now it seems to me that Governor Hayes has 
something more than an equal chance, but the definite 
results can not be foreshadowed. Fortunately, trouble 
need not be provided against by the use of the army, 
should the bill become a law. 

" If the bill passes, and General Grant vetoes it, Mr. 
Tilden's chances will be stronger than before certainly 
if he and his friends supported the measure. Public 
opinion will strengthen his position. 

"The danger in the compromise question or joint 
committee plan is, that the defeated candidate might ap- 
peal to the Supreme Court on grounds of illegal (uncon- 
stitutional) decisions. 

" I am, very truly yours, 

" P. -6. Somebody, possibly Fry, has been writing on 
the subject of military discipline, etc., in the ' Army and 
Navy Journal ' of this week. It is worth reading. 

" A true copy. 
" JNO. M. BACON, Colonel and A. D. C" 


"WASHINGTON, D. C., January 29, 1877. 

" GENERAL W. S. HANCOCK, Commanding Military Divi- 
sion of the Atlantic. 

" GENERAL : The passage of the bill for counting the 
electoral vote, approved by the President, ends, in my 
judgment, all possible danger of confusion or disorder in 


connection with the Presidential imbroglio. I feel cer- 
tain that the dual governments in South Carolina and 
Louisiana will be decided by the same means which de- 
termines who is to be the next President of the United 
States. Therefore, with the consent and approval of 
the Secretary of War, now absent, I want to return the 
troops, temporarily detached, back as soon as possible to 
the posts occupied before the election, with this excep- 
tion, that twelve companies (now thirteen), or the equiva- 
lent of a regiment, remain here in Washington for a 

" The Artillery School should be resumed, and this 
will take back to Fort Monroe companies ' G ' of the 
First, 'A' of the Third, 'I' of the Fourth, and <C' of 
the Fifth Artillery. 

" These should be replaced by three companies now 
temporarily serving in the. Department of the South, say, 
Companies ' D ' and ' L ' Second Artillery, now at Co- 
lumbia, S. C., and Company ' L,' First Artillery. Com- 
pany ' M,' Third Artillery, now at Fort McHenry, 
should return to its post at Fort Wadsworth, .and the 
remaining companies First Artillery in South Carolina, 
viz. : < B,' < D,' < H,' < I,' and < M,' would return to their 

" Indiana is in your command, and Company * G,' 
Third Artillery, can remain at the arsenal at Indianapolis 
for a time. 

" The movement should not begin till I give you 
notice and orders, as the Potomac is still frozen, and the 
school companies can not economically move till a steam- 
boat can take them from the Arsenal here to Fort Monroe. 

" Please have General Fry to make the draft of an 
order to complete these movements send it to me, I will 


approve, and then indicate the time to begin say in 

about ten days. 

" Yours truly, 
(Signed) "W. T. SHERMAN, 

" General. 
" A true copy. 
" JNO. M. BACON, Colonel and, A. D. &" 


1877 Situation of the Country Great Financial Depression Railroad 
Strikes The Army employed to suppress Rioting General Hancock 
directs its Movements 1880 The Nominations for President Cincin- 
nati Convention General Hancock unanimously nominated the Can- 
didate of the Democratic Party The Platform Speech of Hon. Daniel 
Dougherty General Hancock's Letter of Acceptance. 

THE year 1877 opened with the conclusion of the 
Electoral trouble by the seating of President Hayes, and 
the American people began to " breathe freely " ; a pro- 
cess in which they certainly had not indulged since the 
preceding November. 

The financial and economical condition of the country 
during the period which had elapsed since the "panic" 
of 1873, had been very unsatisfactory. There had been 
a sharp contraction of values and prices ; our bonds, re- 
turned from abroad, had drained the country in enormous 
sums ; capital had long been alarmed to the extent of re- 
fusing investment in new enterprises, or even sustaining 
those which were established; the list of failures had 
reached nine thousand in a single year (1876), being three 
times the number of 1871, and an increase in regular pro- 
gression ; two thirds of the furnaces in the country were 
out of blast, and a large proportion of the great manufac- 
tories were closed ; strikes were frequent, and it was al- 
leged by the " New York Herald " that four millions of 
men were out of employment. 


But, with the election and peaceful inauguration of 
President Hayes by virtue of the Electoral Commission 
it was claimed by the Republican press, and believed 
by large numbers of the business men of the country, 
that a revival of trade was to take place, capital would be 
invested, labor be in demand, and values speedily regain 
their former standard. 

During six months these rose-colored predictions found 
faithful believers. Then, as suddenly as though it were a 
convulsion of nature, came the shock and the collapse. 

On July 14, 1877", the strike occurred of the train- 
hands on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and, with a 
rush like wildfire, the dangerous epidemic sped along the 
iron rails, until, in less than a week, perhaps, one hun- 
dred thousand railroad men and forty thousand miners 
were " on strike," and as many as six thousand miles of 
railway, covering most of the trunk lines, were in the 
hands of the strikers, who were now backed and sustained 
by vast masses of rioters, who crawled out of the slums 
of the great cities, and left their "tramp" along the 
country roads, to engage in general spoliation, incendiarism, 
and outrage. The wheels of progress were clogged, the 
great mechanism for the transportation of forty-five mil- 
lions of active, industrious people was idle, the existence 
of social order and the supremacy of the law were threat- 

Here was a commentary upon the progress of the 
country under the management and control of that party 
which had for nearly seventeen years held the reins of 

At such a juncture it became necessary to call upon 
whatever drilled and disciplined forces existed ; and, 
while the militia of the different States, where riotous 


proceedings interrupted the peaceful progress of events, 
were at once armed and summoned to the field, the 
United States Army, now scattered to all parts of the 
Union, was hastily brought together in such proportion as 
was practicable, and called to defend peaceful citizens, to 
protect public and private property, and to sustain Law 
and Order. 

A large number of the regulars were at this time en- 
gaged, with General Howard and Colonel Miles, fight- 
ing the Nez Perces Indians, and in other disturbed 
parts of the Indian country. As the principal weight of 
the riotous demonstrations was felt east of the Missis- 
sippi, the duty of employing the United States forces for 
their suppression fell to General Hancock, being within 
his command of the Division of the Atlantic. Making 
his headquarters at Philadelphia, General Hancock drew 
from all possible quarters with the greatest celerity, and 
dispatched to threatened points, or employed for the pro- 
tection of railroad and other property actually attacked, 
all the soldiers, sailors, and marines possible to be obtained 
and transported in time to be of service. Along the Bal- 
timore and Ohio line, in Maryland and West Virginia, 
single trains were run under the protection of the Fed- 
eral forces. In the city of Baltimore the soldiers were 
stoned by the rioters ; but it is a fact that no serious re- 
sistance was offered to the regular army, the insubordi- 
nate classes seeming to stand in awe of the Federal 
forces, though so few in number, while to the State 
militia they displayed positive hatred, and in many in- 
stances successfully resisted. "While the militia lost heav- 
ily in killed and badly injured during the continuance of 
the riots, the regular army accomplished a most excellent 
purpose often by their mere presence and without los- 


ing a man in General Hancock's entire command, or the 
destruction of any life. 

The railroad riots continued until the end of July; 
the losses, chiefly in Pittsburgh Pa., but also in Chicago, 
Cincinnati, Buffalo, Albany, and at other points, have 
never been fully estimated. In Pittsburgh alone, be- 
sides much other property, the loss by the railroads was 
enormous. Two thousand freight cars with their con- 
tents were destroyed, and the direct loss of railroad 
property was estimated to be between $8,000,000 and 

No active military operations occurred in General 
Hancock's command, after 1877, of sufficient importance 
to need chronicling here. 

And, reaching the year 1880, we enter upon the last 
phase in General Hancock's life to be recorded here, and 
which resulted in his nomination by the Democratic con- 
vention as the candidate of that party for the office of 
President of the United States. 

The National Republican convention had met at Chi- 
cago, June 2d, and, after an exciting and protracted ses- 
sion, had nominated James A. Garfield, of Ohio, for 
President and Chester A. Arthur, of New York, for 

The National Democratic convention met at Cincin- 
nati on June 22d, and organized with Judge Hoadley, of 
Cincinnati, as temporary chairman. Among the promi- 
nent candidates for the Presidential nomination was 
Samuel J. Tilden, with Hancock, Bayard, Payne, Thur- 
man, Hendricks, Jewett, Field, Morrison, and a number 
of other prominent Democrats, the list of gentlemen 
favorably mentioned being large. 
A permanent organization of the convention was ef- 



fected on the 23d, with Hon. John W. Stevenson, of 
Kentucky, as permanent chairman, and the following 
named gentlemen as vice-presidents and secretaries : 




Alabama. . 

C C Lan^don 

J. S. Ferguson. 


C. A. Gault 
W. C. Hendricks 

J. P. Coffin. 
J. B. Metcalf. 


Alva Adams . . 

John Stone. 


Curtis Bacon 

Samuel Simpson. 

Delaware ... 

James Williams 

A. P. Robinson. 


William Jud cr e . ... 

J B Marshall. 


J R Alexander 

Mark A. Hardin. 


II. M. Vanderen 

W. A Day. 

J. R. Slack '. 

Rufus Magee. 

S. B. Evans 

J J Snouffcr. 


W. V. Bennett 

J. B. Chapman. 

Kentucky . 

Henry Burnett . . 

T G Stuart 

J. D. Jeffries 

M. McNamara 

Maine . . 

Darius Alden 

J R Redman 

Maryland . . . 

Philip F Thomas 

M A Thomas 

Massachusetts ... . 

Jonas H. French .... 

J. M Thayer 


A. J Shakespeare 


L L Baxter 

L A Evans 

Mississippi . . ... 

W. S. Featherson 

R C Patty 


B. F. Dillon 

N C Dry den 


R S Maloney 

James North 


Not named . . ... 

Not naTQcd 

New Hampshire 

Frank Jones 

Charles A Busiel. 

New Jersey 
New York 

H. B. Smith 
Not named 

J. S. Coleman. 
Not named 

North Carolina . 

W T Dortch 

R M Furman 


J. L. McSweenev. 

C T Lewis 


J. W. Winson 

A. Noltner. 

D E Efmentraut 

Not named 

Rhode Island 

Thomas W. Segar 

John "Waters 

South Carolina 

M. C. Butler 

J. R. Abney 

Tennessee ... 

J W. Childress. 

C L Ridlev 


Joel W. Robinson .... 

B P Paddock 

Vermont . . . 

N P. Bowman 

H W McGettrick 


R W Hunter 

W^est Virginia . . 

C P Snyder 

H C Si rams 

Wisconsin . 

J. C. Gregory 

J M Smith 

A letter from Mr. Tilden was read to the convention, 
in which he pointedly declined to permit the use of his 


name as a candidate for the nomination. Balloting began 
on this day ("Wednesday, June 23d), when, on the first 
ballot, General Hancock led with 171 votes, Bayard being 
next with 153 J, and Payne, Thurman, Field, Morrison, 
and Hendricks following in this order. 

On the second ballot, which was taken on Thursday 
(24th), General Hancock received 705 votes, when his 
nomination was declared unanimous. The convention then 
proceeded to ballot for Yice-President, when Hon. William 
H. English, of Indiana, was unanimously nominated. 

The platform of the Democratic party as announced at 
this convention is as follows : 


The Democrats of the United States, in convention 
assembled, declare : 

1. We pledge ourselves anew to the constitutional doc- 
trines and traditions of the Democratic party as illustrated 
by the teachings and example of a long line of Democratic 
statesmen and patriots, and embodied in the platform of 
the last National convention of the party. 

2. Opposition to centralization and to that dangerous 
spirit of encroachment which tends to consolidate the 
powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, 
whatever be the form of government, a real despotism ; 
no sumptuary laws ; separation of Church and State for 
the good of each ; common schools fostered and protected. 

3. Home rule ; honest money, consisting of gold and 
silver, and paper convertible into coin on demand ; the 
strict maintenance of the public faith, State and Na- 
tional, and a tariff for revenue only. 

4. The subordination of the military to the civil power, 
and a genuine and thorough reform of the Civil Service. 


5. The right to a free ballot is a right preservative of 
all rights, and must and shall be maintained in every part 
of the United States. 

6. The existing administration is the representative 
of conspiracy only ; and its claim of right to surround the 
ballot boxes with troops and deputy marshals, to intimi- 
date and obstruct the election, and the unprecedented use 
of the veto to maintain its corrupt and despotic powers, 
insult the people and imperil their institutions. 

7. We execrate the course of this administration in 
making places in the Civil Service a reward for political 
crime, and demand a reform by statute which shall make 
it forever impossible for a defeated candidate to bribe his 
way to the seat of a usurper by billeting villains upon the 

8. The great fraud of 1876-'77, by which, upon a 
false count of the electoral votes of two States, the can- 
didate defeated at the polls was declared to be President, 
and, for the first time in American history, the will of the 
people was set aside under a threat of military violence, 
struck a deadly blow at our system of representative gov- 
ernment. The Democratic party, to preserve the country 
from the horrors of a civil war, submitted for the time, in 
firm and patriotic faith that the people would punish this 
crime in 1880. This issue precedes and dwarfs every 
other. It imposes a more sacred duty upon the people of 
the Union than ever addressed the consciences of a nation 
of freemen. 

9. The resolution of Samuel J. Tilden not again to 
be a candidate for the exalted place to which he was 
elected by a majority of his countrymen, and from which 
he was excluded by the leaders of the Republican party, 
is received by the Democrats of the United States with 


deep sensibility, and they declare their confidence in his 
wisdom, patriotism, and integrity unshaken by the as- 
saults of the common enemy ; and they further assure 
him that he is followed into the retirement he has chosen 
for himself by the sympathy and respect of his fellow 
citizens, who regard him as one who, by elevating the 
standard of public morality and adorning and purifying 
the public service, merits the lasting gratitude of his 
country and his party. 

10. Free ships and a living chance for American com- 
merce on the seas, and on the land no discrimination in 
favor of transportation lines, corporations, or monopolies. 

11. Amendment of the Burlingame treaty ; no more 
Chinese immigration, except for travel, education, and 
foreign commerce, and that even carefully guarded. 

12. Public money and public credit for public pur- 
poses solely, and public land for actual settlers. 

13. The Democratic party is the friend of labor and 
the laboring man, and pledges itself to protect him alike 
against the cormorants and the Commune. 

14. We congratulate the country upon the honesty and 
thrift of a Democratic Congress which has reduced the 
public expenditures $40,000,000 a year ; upon the con- 
tinuation of prosperity at home and the national honor 
abroad ; and, above all, upon the promise of such a change 
in the administration of the Government as shall insure 
us genuine and lasting reform in every department of the 
public service. 

The honor of naming General Hancock before the 
convention fell to that distinguished orator, gentleman, 
and scholar Hon. Daniel Dougherty, of Pennsylvania, 
who addressed the convention in the following language : 


" MR. CHAIRMAN : I propose to present to the thought- 
ful consideration of the convention the name of one who, 
on the field of battle, was styled ' The Superb, 5 yet won 
a still nobler renown as a military governor, whose first 
act, when in command of Louisiana and Texas was to sa- 
lute the Constitution by proclaiming that 6 the military 
rule shall ever be subservient to the civil power.' The 
plighted word of a soldier was proved by the acts of a 
statesman . 

" I nominate one whose name will suppress all faction ; 
which will be alike acceptable to the North and to the 
South. A name that will thrill the Republic. A name, 
if nominated, of a man who will crush the last embers 
of sectional strife, and whose name will be the dawning 
of that day so long looked for, the day of perpetual 
brotherhood among the people of America. 

" With him as our champion, we can fling away our 
shields and wage an aggressive war. With him, we can 
appeal to the supreme majesty of the American people 
against the corruptions of the Republican party and their 
untold violations of constitutional liberty. With him as 
our standard-bearer, the bloody banner of Republicanism 
will fall palsied to the ground. O my Countrymen ! In 
this supreme hour, when the destinies of the Republic, 
when the imperiled liberties of the people are in your 
hands, pause, reflect, take heed, make no mistake ! I say 
I nominate one whose nomination would carry every 
State of the South. I nominate one who will carry Penn- 
sylvania, carry Indiana, carry Connecticut, carry New 
Jersey, carry New York. I propose the name [a voice 
< Carry Ohio ! '] Aye, carry Ohio ! I propose the name 
of the soldier statesman, whose record is as stainless as 
his sword Winfield Scott Hancock. 

" One word more : if elected, he will take his seat ! " 

On July 13, 1880, General Hancock was formally no- 
tified, at Governor's Island, of his nomination by the 
Democratic party, the following being the announcement 
and response : 

"NEW YORK, July 13, 1880. 

"SiR: The National Convention of the Democratic 
party, which assembled at Cincinnati on the 22d of last 
month, unanimously nominated you as their candidate for 
the office of President of the United States. We have 
been directed to inform you of your nomination for this 
exalted trust, and to ask its acceptance. 

" In accordance with the uniform custom of the Demo- 
cratic party, the Convention have announced their views 
upon the important issues which are before the country, 
in a series of resolutions to which we invite your atten- 
tion. These resolutions embody the general principles 
upon which the Democratic party demand the government 
shall be conducted, and they also emphatically condemn 
the maladministration of the Government by the party 
in power, its crimes against the Constitution, and espe- 
cially against the right of the people to choose and install 
their President, which have wrought so much injury and 
dishonor to our country. 

" That which chiefly inspired your nomination was the 
fact that you had conspicuously recognized and exempli- 
fied the yearning of the American people for reconciliation 
and brotherhood under the shield of the Constitution, 
with all its jealous care and guarantees for the rights of 
persons and of States. 

" Your nomination was not made alone because in the 
midst of arms you illustrated the highest qualities of the 


soldier, but because, when the war had ended, and when 
in recognition of your courage and fidelity you were 
placed in command of a part of the Union undergoing 
the process of restoration, and while you were thus clothed 
with absolute power, you used it not to subvert but to 
sustain the civil laws, and the rights they were established 
to protect. 

" Your fidelity to these principles, manifested in the 
important trusts heretofore confided to your care, gives 
proof that they will control your administration of the 
National Government, and assures the country that our 
indissoluble Union of indestructible States, and the Con- 
stitution, with its wise distributions of power and regard 
for the boundaries of State and Federal authority, will not 
suffer in your hands ; that you will maintain the subordi- 
nation of the military to the civil power, and will accom- 
plish the purification of the public service, and especially 
that the Government which we love will be free from the 
reproach or stain of sectional agitation or malice in any 
shape or form. 

" Kejoicing in common with the masses of the Ameri- 
can people at this bright promise for the future of our 
country, we wish also to express to you personally the as- 
surance of the general esteem and confidence which have 
summoned you to this high duty, and will aid you in its 

" Your Fellow Citizens, 

" President of the Convention, 

" Secretary, 

" And other Members of the Committee" 

To which General Hancock replied as follows : 

I appreciate the honor conferred upon me by the " National 
Democratic Convention " lately assembled in Cincinnati. 
I thank you for your courtesy in making that honor 
known to me. 

" As soon as the importance of the matter permits, I 
will prepare and send to you a formal acceptance of 
my nomination to the office of President of the United 


On July 29th he accepted the nomination by letter, 
as follows : 


" GENTLEMEN : I have the honor to acknowledge the 
receipt of your letter of July 13, 1880, apprising me 
formally of my nomination to the office of President of 
the United States by the " National Democratic Conven- 
tion " lately assembled in Cincinnati. I accept the nomi- 
nation with grateful appreciation of the confidence reposed 
in me. 

"The principles enunciated by the Convention are 
those I have cherished in the past and shall endeavor to 
maintain in the future. 

" The thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amend- 
ments to the Constitution of the United States, embodying 
the results of the war for the Union, are inviolable. If 
called to the Presidency, I should deem it my duty to 
resist with all of my power any attempt to impair or evade 
the full force and effect of the Constitution, which, in 
every article, section, and amendment is the supreme law 
of the land. The Constitution forms the basis of the 


Government of the United States. The powers granted 
by it to the legislative, executive, and judicial departments 
define and limit the authority of the General Govern- 
ment ; powers not delegated to the United States by the 
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, belong 
to the States respectively, or to the people. The gen- 
eral and State governments, each acting in its own 
sphere, without trenching upon the lawful jurisdiction of 
the other, constitute the Union. This Union, compris- 
ing a General government with general powers, and State 
governments with state powers, for purposes local to the 
States, is a polity the foundations of which were laid in 
the profoundest wisdom. 

" This is the Union our fathers made, and which has 
been so respected abroad and so beneficent at home. 
Tried by blood and fire, it stands to-day a model form 
of free popular government ; a political system which, 
rightly administered, has been and will continue to be the 
admiration of the world. May we not say, nearly in the 
words of Washington : ' The unity of government which 
constitutes us one people is justly dear to us ; it is the 
main pillar in the edifice of our real independence, the 
support of our peace, safety, and prosperity, and of that 
liberty we so highly prize and intend at every hazard to 
preserve. 5 

" But no form of government, however carefully de- 
vised, no principles, however sound, will protect the rights 
of the people unless its administration is faithful and effi- 
cent. It is a vital principle in our system that neither 
fraud nor force must be allowed to subvert the rights of 
the people. When fraud, violence, or incompetence con- 
trols, the noblest constitutions and wisest laws are useless. 
The bayonet is not a fit instrument for collecting the votes 


of freemen. It is only by a full vote, free ballot, and fair 
count, that the people can rule in fact, as required by the 
theory of our government. Take this foundation away, 
and the whole structure falls. 

" Public office is a trust, not a bounty bestowed upon 
the holder ; no incompetent or dishonest persons should 
ever be entrusted with it, or, if appointed, they should 
be promptly ejected. The basis of a substantial, practical 
civil-service reform must first be established by the 
people in filling the elective offices ; if they fix a high 
standard of qualifications for office, and sternly reject the 
corrupt and incompetent, the result will be decisive in 
governing the action of the servants whom they entrust 
with appointing power. 

" The war for the Union was successfully closed more 
than fifteen years ago. All classes of our people must 
share alike in the blessings of the Union, and are equally 
concerned in its perpetuity and in the proper administra- 
tion of public affairs. We are in a state of profound 
peace. Henceforth let it be our purpose to cultivate 
sentiments of friendship and not of animosity among our 
fellow citizens. 

" Our material interests, varied and progressive, demand 
our constant and united efforts. A sedulous and scrupu- 
lous care of the public credit, together with a wise and 
economical management of our governmental expenditures 
should be maintained, in order that labor may be lightly 
burdened, and that all persons may be protected in their 
rights to the fruits of their own industry. The time has 
come to enjoy the substantial benefits of reconciliation. 
As one people we have common interests. Let us encour- 
age the harmony and generous rivalry among our own 
industries which will revive our languishing merchant 


marine, extend our commerce with foreign nations, assist 
our merchants, manufacturers, and producers to develop 
our vast natural resources, and increase the prosperity and 
happiness of our people. 

" If elected, I shall, with the Divine favor, labor with 
what ability I possess to discharge my duties w r ith fidelity 
according to my convictions, and shall take care to pro- 
tect and defend the Union, and to see that the laws be 
faithfully and equally executed in all parts of the country 
alike. I will assume the responsibility, fully sensible of 
the fact that to administer rightly the functions of govern- 
ment is to discharge the most sacred duty that can devolve 
upon an American citizen. 

" I am, very respectfully, yours, 

"7b the EON. JOHN W. STEVENSON, President of the Convention; 

HON. JOHN P. STOCKTON, Chairman, and others of the Committee 

of the National Democratic Convention." 






Conclusion Anecdote of Mr. Lincoln An Incident of Chancellorvilie 
Hancock as a Writer: Testimony of General James B. Steadman 
Generals Sherman and Sheridan on General Hancock. Hon. Amasa 
Cobb's Opinion of Him Magnificent Tribute by a Kansas Lecturer 
" Hancock " : A Poem, by Colonel A. J. H. Duganne Dr. Junkin on 
General Hancock's Private Character Finis. 

IN concluding the present account of the life of Gen- 
eral Hancock, we find ourselves confronted with a mass 
of unused material, very much of which might properly 
find place here in further illustration. Exigencies, insep- 
arable from the character of the work, have prevented the 
insertion of writings in the nature of additional criti- 
cism and analysis of his character and his acts, on the 
part of men calculated by circumstances of acquaintance, 
or other position, to be well informed, and, by their un- 
questioned capacity, to be wise and just in judgment. It 
is with regret that we have been compelled to exclude so 
much of such material, and we can not faithfully complete 
our task without employing some of it. That which 
follows is accordingly inserted, each part by reason of its 
own merit or value, and without regard to the general 
coherence of the book. 

A correspondent of the "Lancaster Intelligencer" 
gives the following anecdote, as told him by Mr. James 
McDougal, a prominent Republican of Baltimore : 


" When Mr. Lincoln issued his Emancipation Procla- 
mation I believe that was the occasion a deputation of 
citizens from Baltimore went on to Washington to con- 
gratulate him. Mr. McDougal was one of the number. 

" i Take seats, boys, take seats ! ' exclaimed Mr. Lin- 
coln, as he rang the bell for chairs to be brought in. 

" The visitors sat down, and spent nearly an hour in 
conversation. Presently the subject of generals came up, 
and various opinions were expressed as to who was the 
ablest officer on our side. When a great many opinions 
had been given, Mr. Lincoln said : 

" ' Gentlemen, in my judgment, you have not struck 
the right man yet.' 

" And of course all were anxious to hear him name 
the man, and asked him to do so. He said : 

" ' It is General Hancock.' 

" The countenances of his visitors expressed their 
surprise, and one of them ventured to say that he feared 
Hancock was too rash. 

" ' Yes,' said Mr. Lincoln, ' so some of the older gen- 
erals have said to me, and I have said to them that I have 
watched General Hancock's conduct very carefully, and 
I have found that when he goes into action he achieves his 
purpose, and comes out with a smaller list of casualties 
than any of them. Bold he is, but not rash. Why, gentle- 
men, do you know what his record was at West Point ? ' 

" And Mr. Lincoln went to his book-shelf, and, taking 
down an ' Army Register,' showed the position in which 
Hancock had graduated, and that, furthermore, in a class 
that was one of the most distinguished that had ever 
graduated at the Military Academy. Continuing to speak 
of him in the highest terms, he further said : 

" 1 1 tell you, gentlemen, that, if his life and strength 


are spared, I believe that General Hancock is destined to 
be one of the most distinguished men of the age. Why, 
when I go down in the morning to open my mail and 
I arise at four o'clock I declare that I do it in fear and 
trembling, lest I may hear that Hancock has been killed 
or wounded.' ' 

It was a fact well known to many who saw much of 
the President, that on occasions of great battles, like the 
Wilderness, Gettysburg, etc., when Mr. Lincoln was ob- 
taining, of course, dispatches that no one else received, he 
was in the habit of saying, frequently, when he knew 
the Second Corps had gone into action, "I am afraid 
Hancock is going to be killed to-day." 

Policeman Albert Bradley, of New Haven, Connecti- 
cut (according to the New Haven " Union "), who was 
formerly a member of the Twenty-seventh Regiment, 
Connecticut Volunteers, tells a characteristic story of 
Hancock. " It was at the battle of Chancellorville. The 
rebels attacked a battery on the left of our line, and 
rained such a storm of shot and shell upon it that many 
of the gunners were killed and the rest were driven away. 
General Hancock rode up among the infantry and called 
for volunteers to man the guns. A sufficient number of 
men at once volunteered. General Hancock rode at their 
head through the terrible fire. He was a picture of 
manly strength and beauty truly a 'superb' man. It 
was impossible that horse and rider should escape, and 
the former went down. The gallant leader was deeply 
affected. He looked for a moment to see if the animal 
was really fatally hurt, and then he stooped quickly and 
passionately caressed the faithful charger. Brushing his 
hands across his eyes, he said : ' To the guns, men ! ' and, 
on foot, he remained at the head of his men until every 


gun was once more righted and pouring its death-dealing 
missiles into the enemy. I shall never forget the sight, 
and ever since have cherished a tender regard for General 
Hancock. That incident made a deep impression on his 
men, and, although I am a Eepublican, I know that nearly 
all of the boys who fought under him will vote for Gen- 
eral Hancock." 

So much has the idea that a soldier must necessarily 
be ignorant of the principles of civil law and the admin- 
istration of civil government been employed as a chal- 
lenge of General Hancock's competency in this direction, 
that even his incapacity to write his own letters and or- 
ders has been charged upon him. Accordingly his inim- 
itable " Order No. 40 " was claimed to have been the 
work of Hon. J. S. Black, until the statement was distinct- 
ly denied by that gentleman ; and his celebrated " Pease " 
letter was equally alleged to have originated at the hands 
of some one other than himself. To stifle for ever this 
latter fatuous and baseless assertion, we present here 
very competent evidence with regard to this marvelous 
specimen of argumentative writing : it is from General 
James 33. Steadman, and is given in his own words : " It 
was in February, I think, 1868," said General Stead- 
man, " at any rate before the delegates in Louisiana were 
elected to the National Convention, because it was on 
account of the sentiments expressed that General Han- 
cock w r as made the candidate, for President, of the Louis- 
iana and Texas delegations. I was daily at his head- 
quarters in New Orleans, and saw him at work upon the 
letter. It was his own conception, and his own compo- 
sition, every word of it, and he talked about it consider- 
ably. He took the ground himself, without the sugges- 


tion of a human being, as I believe, that it was the duty 
of the military to aid and support and uphold the civil 
authority. The strength of his utterances impressed me 
greatly. I had never heard any man talk more clearly 
on the subject, or with a clearer conception of what 
he held was military duty. He was at work on the 
letter three particular days. In going in and out during 
the time, I saw the manuscript, and he read paragraphs 
of the letter to me perhaps, in all, the greater portion 
of it. I could almost go on the witness stand and swear, 
to my knowledge, that Winfield Scott Hancock wrote 
the letter." 

The two quotations following explain themselves : 

General Sherman said of him to a reporter : " If you 
will sit down and write the best thing that can be put in 
language about General Hancock as an officer and a gen- 
tleman, I will sign it without hesitation." 

General Sheridan said of him : 

" I am not in politics, but General Hancock is a good 
and great man. The Democrats have not made any mis- 
take this time. They have nominated an excellent and 
strong ticket." 

At a public meeting held at Tammany Hall, New 
York, March 8, 1864, the object being the encouraging 
of enlistments to fill up the Second Corps, General Han- 
cock spoke as follows : 

" I am highly honored by the invitation to meet so 
many of the citizens of New York on this occasion, in 
this ancient temple of the Democracy. I am delighted 
to accompany on the war-path that element of the politi- 


cal parties of the country which has heretofore been so 
successful in shaping its destinies. With the assistance 
of the powers beyond, there should be no such word as 
failure in any operation, not even that of putting down 
by force of arms the existing gigantic Rebellion against 
the Constitutional rule of the Government. "We have 
come here to-night, not to talk of peace for, in the 
opinion of practical men, that time is past. We find 
a rebellion on our hands of proportions not equaled in 
modern times. We have not met here to discuss the 
manner of putting it down. That men sensitive of honor 
have decided can only be done by blows. We have 
been engaged in that operation for a considerable time, 
and are determined to persevere in it until the desired 
result is obtained. We know, also, that our integrity 
and honor are at stake in carrying it through to a success- 
ful issue. We are here to night for war, and, when war 
has performed its part, we then will leave it to those to 
discuss the terms of peace whom the Constitution of the 
country has invested with that power, and our terms of 
peace are the integrity of and obedience to the civil laws 
of the land. Our armies have been prosperous, as can 
be readily seen by looking at the map of the country oc- 
cupied by the contending forces ; but the Rebellion is 
gaining heart by the distractions among our people, 
caused by unpatriotic factions, and by the sympathies of 
the disloyal among us, and is determined to make one 
grand effort to force us back. It will probably be the 
last. To make it sure that the enemy shall not resist our 
triumphant march, it is necessary for us to give to the 
Government a sufficient force to make such a result im- 
possible. With our great preponderance of population, 
it is easy for us to do so. With a great force on our 


side, this war will be short. Let us all, therefore, take a 
part, and the honor may be equally divided. No man 
can afford to be unpatriotic in time of war. That has 
been proven, and there are numbers of persons living 
who are evidences of the fact. Let every man, there- 
fore, who values his honor and that of his children, enter 
the service of his country, if he is in circumstances to 
permit him to do so ; and, if not, let him, if possible, 
keep a representative in the field. For the mass of men, 
inducements to enter the service are now so great that no 
one need claim he should be exempt because they are not 
greater. Every one whose circumstances permitted him 
to shoulder a musket in this war, and has failed to do so, 
and those who have not done their duty at home in assist- 
ing to put men in the field, will regret their want of 
action when peace again smiles over the country. Too 
late then for them to repair their error. Even their chil- 
dren will despise them, and woman, too, who judges man 
by his deeds, will smile upon only those who, in this war, 
have acted with manliness and patriotism. I have com- 
mand of the Second Corps, composed of fifty regiments 
of veteran troops. They have trod the paths of glory so 
well that no man need be afraid of going astray who 
may join them. Nineteen of these regiments are from 
your State, and thirteen from your city. Men entering 
either of those organizations need not fear but on the 
march, and in camp, and in time of battle they will feel 
confidence in themselves from the fact of being sur- 
rounded by veterans so ready to share with them all the 
danger, and who will equally divide the honor, claiming 
no advantage on account of their greater experience. No 
one need fear that he will not make a good soldier. The 
man on his right and on his left will give him confidence. 


They have trod the paths of glory before. We have 
room for all nationalities. We have the Irish Brigade. 
We have the German legions, and many others known to 
you by some means. We had a Tammany regiment also. 
Any man can find in the New York City regiments of 
the Second Corps companions who sympathize with him. 
There are places for all. Let them come. I will also 
say to the representatives of the sturdy class which form 
the backbone of our army, that no men are more deeply 
interested in this war than themselves. If the Govern- 
ment is preserved, they will preserve their liberties, and 
the result to them may be a sad experience if the Gov- 
ernment should fail in putting down the Rebellion for 
the want of strong arms. Come, then, and join the force 
in the field. Come now, for you are wanted. The vet- 
erans, by reenlisting, have set an example well worth fol- 
lowing. Their acts show their confidence in the future." 

The following occurrence took place on the occasion 
of a serenade, which was tendered to General Hancock 
at Washington, on September 24, 186T, just before he 
was ordered off to New Orleans, to take command of the 
Fifth Military District. 

An immense audience was assembled, and General 
Hancock was introduced by Hon. Amasa Cobb, of Wis- 
consin, then a Republican member of Congress, and now 
a Republican Judge of the Supreme Court of Nebraska. 
General Cobb said : 

" To me has been intrusted the pleasure and duty of 
appearing before you in the capacity of an old friend and 
comrade of the distinguished General now before you, to 
introduce him to you on this occasion. Six years ago I had 
the honor to be in command of a volunteer regiment in 


the Army of the Potomac, and, with three other regiments, 
had the good fortune to be placed under the command 
of the then newly appointed Brigadier-General Hancock. 
During the long and tedious winter of 1861 and 1862, we 
did duty in front of this capital, devoting the days to dis- 
cipline and the nights to watching and picket. We were 
volunteers. The General was a Regular army officer. All 
of you who passed through similar experience will bear 
me witness that volunteers felt the rigors of discipline 
when placed under such disciplinarians as that army was 
commanded by; and its discipline and after efficiency 
were owing chiefly, if not wholly, to this fact. The win- 
ter passed away, and the army finally moved, and in the 
course of the war they were brought in front of the 
enemy. General Hancock's first brigade succeeded in 
turning the enemy's left at Williamsburg, and afterward 
he prevented the victorious enemy from driving the lines 
of McClellan from the Chickahominy, and, later on, it 
came up to save the day at Antietam ; and now I esteem 
it a great honor bestowed upon me and my old regiment 
to have the opportunity of standing here by that great 
General's side, bearing testimony to his kindness of heart, 
his gallantry as a soldier, and his trueness as a man." 

The speaker here turned to General Hancock, and 
said : 

" Allow me to say that to your new field of duty the 
hearts of our old brigade go with you, knowing that, 
wherever you may go, the country will have a brave and 
efficient soldier, and that flag a gallant defender." 

Bancroft Librai 

General Hancock was received with much applause, 

and replied as follows : 


" CITIZENS OF WASHINGTON : I thank you for this 
testimony of your confidence in my ability to perform 
my duty in a new and different sphere. Educated as a 
soldier in the military school of our country, and on the 
field of the Mexican War and the American Rebellion, 
I need not assure you that my course as a district com- 
mander will be characterized by the same strict soldierly 
obedience to the law there taught me as a soldier I know 
no other guide or higher duty. Misrepresentation and 
misconstruction, arising from the passions of the hour, 
and spread by those who do not know that devotion to 
duty has governed my actions in every trying hour, may 
meet me, but I fear them not. My highest desire will 
be to perform the duties of my new sphere, not in the 
interest of parties or partisans, but for the benefit of my 
country, the honor of my profession, and I trust, also, 
for the welfare of the people committed to my care. I 
ask, then, citizens, that time may be permitted to develop 
my actions. Judge me by the deeds I may perform, and, 
conscious of my devotion to duty and my country, I shall 
be satisfied with your verdict ; and, if a generous country 
shall approve my actions in the future as it has in the 
past, my highest ambition will have been achieved. As 
a soldier, I am to administer duties rather than discuss 
them. If I can administer them to the satisfaction of the 
country, I shall indeed be happy in the consciousness of 
a duty performed. I am about to leave your city, the 
capital of our country, bearing the proud name of Wash- 
ington. As an American citizen, the rapid development 
and increase of its wealth, beauty, and prosperity, is a 
matter in which I am deeply interested. But far beyond 
this, citizens of Washington, I rejoice with you that in 
the trying hour of the rebellion the capital of the nation 


contributed as fully as any State in the Union to the brave 
volunteer army, which has demonstrated to the world the 
strength and invincibility of a republican form of gov- 
ernment. I shall carry with me the recollections of this 
occasion, and, when I return, may I not hope that none 
who are here will regret their participation in the honor 
you have done me to-night ? " 

The following eloquent and poetic tribute to General 
Hancock is quoted from a lecture on " The Solid South," 
which was delivered by James Elbert Powell, of Kansas 

" I can not close this allusion to the era of Keconstruc- 
tion in the South, ladies and gentlemen, without offering 
a tribute to that man, who, tried by the true test of 
greatness, has proven himself to be a peer whose young 
sword flashed like a meteor over the bloody fields of 
Mexico, and flung its gleams across the deepening twi- 
light of Spottsylvania and Gettysburg whose splendid 
energies and Spartan prowess have ever dedicated it to 
the cause of individual justice and national honor whose 
gallantry is emblazoned upon the brightest pages of 
American history whose glory as a warrior is eclipsed 
by the grandeur of the civilian who was no less a hero 
beneath the olive branch of peace than when leading the 
charge under the red banner of war who never feared 
to draw his sword at the call of his country, or to lay it, 
sheathed, upon the shrine of constitutional government, 
when the dust of conflict had drifted away who crystal- 
lized his views and molded his measures with that royal 
compassion which yielded to a conquered and impover- 
ished foe the inviolable inheritance of civil liberty who 
is one of the grandest men in the land, recognized by 



the brilliancy of his individual luster, and not reflecting 
the borrowed rays of other luminaries to that defender 
of the Union, that champion of the Constitution, that 
sovereign of soldiers, that pioneer of peace, that prince 
of patriots, General Winfield Scott Hancock, the expo- 
nent of great virtue, of tried courage, of lofty wisdom, of 
broad intelligence, of earnest patriotism, of noble aspira- 
tion, and of true manhood. 

" He is a soldier, not alone of manners or of rank, but 
of merit and of mind he is a soldier who distinguished 
himself in the defense of liberty, and the vanquishment 
of despotism he is a soldier who lifted himself above 
the ignorance and prejudice of the day, and planted the 
royal banner of pardon and love upon the battlements of 
sectionalism and strife he is a soldier, not by the power 
of fear, but by the force of splendid superiority ; he is a 
soldier upon whose bosom radiates the star of honor, and 
to whose memory will be issued the highest patent of 

" When, at the foot of Bunker Hill, in the shadow of 
that royal shaft which stands a monumental emblem of 
heroic valor, whose remembrance is consecrated in the 
hearts of fifty millions of patriots, beneath the rays of 
the stars and the light of the centuries, the goddess of 
historic unity and liberty, the guardian of our national 
faith, shall call the roll of the grand army of heroes, there 
will be no more gallant, no more glorious, response than 
that which swells from the heart and the record of Win- 
field S. Hancock. 

" He believed that, when the Southern chieftain sur- 
rendered his sword to the Northern conqueror beneath 
the historic tree at Appomattox, the Southern sun went 
down, and with its setting were buried the passion and 


pain of war that the blue and gray would clasp hands 
for ever, and the Northern sigh meet the Southern sor- 
row above the same graves, garlanded with the same 
flowers, gathered by the same hands, consecrated by the 
same regrets, and bedewed with the same tears. 

"He has recently been nominated by a great political 
body for the highest office in the gift of the American 
people, and, though I come to-night as the advocate of no 
faction the champion of no party as a lover of my 
country, I must say that, if the star which now rises 
above General Hancock's destiny casts its meridian 
beams upon him in the White House, they will fall upon 
an executive from whose hands the scepter of justice 
will not drop in helpless impotence, but one who will 
continue to battle for Union and liberty while truth, cour- 
age, and fidelity to principle shall find a home in the 
hearts and hopes of men. He will not be a politician 
for the sake of party, as he has not been a soldier for the 
sake of glory, but he will be a man for the sake of man- 
hood, and a patriot for the sake of his country. He is a 
man the corner-stone of whose character is integrity. He 
is a man whose virtues are not negative or obstructive, 
but positive and aggressive. He is a man with a strong 
mind, a pure heart, and a ready hand. He is a man who 
will set his face against any system of political looseness, 
and link honor and valor to sympathy with the people. 
He is a man whose favor no spoils of office can buy, whose 
voice no mocking flattery can silence ; he is a man upon 
whose escutcheon rests no stain or semblance of dishonor ; 
he is a man who will bind together the fragments of our 
dismembered Union ; he is a man who will heal the 
wounds of sectional hate, and kindle the warmth of fra- 
ternal affection ; he is a man who will rise above the level 


of partisan zeal, above the reach of personal venality, 
above the influence or suspicion of corruption, above the 
scope of moral cowardice a man who will bring courage, 
bring peace to our unhappy country, where now 

" * Freedom weeps, 
Wrong rules the land, 
And waiting justice sleeps/ " 

And, after this thrilling and soul-stirring composition, 
we can not do better than to present the following ori- 
ginal poem, written by Colonel A. J. H. Duganne, of Bel- 
mont, Fordham, New York City, for the columns of the 
New York " Era," and first published in that journal 
July 17, 1880. 



In the days when MANHOOD rose, 
Answering nnto FREEDOM'S throes ; 
And the womb of Freedom yielded 
UNION, with her Stars enshielded ; 
In the days when MEN were MEN 
Sword with sword, and pen with pen 
And in line, their lives to mix, 
And their SOULS, as BEALS, to fix, 
Stood the Immortal FIFTY-SIX 
Then, to witness Freedom's claim, 
MANHOOD wrote that deathless name 


Never an army's clarion blast 

Eang through all our human Past, 

Like those words of DECLARATION, 

Christening FREEDOM'S new-born NATION ! 

Voiceful unto all the lands 

"Kise! and break your servile bands! " 


While the BELL, with brazen call, 
Swung o'er Independence Hall 
Answering "LIBERTY FOB ALL! " 
And beneath VIRGINIA'S light, 
MASSACHUSETTS rose, to write 


FIRST of all the immortal roll, 
Signed he FREEDOM'S lifted scroll ; 
"When to SIGN was danger facing 
"When to LEAD, was doom embracing 
First of all his compeers known, 
Signed he Freedom's scroll alone ! 
And his NAME, for North and South 
Flame-like, over prairie drouth, 
Fiery tongued, from mouth to mouth 
MOTTLTRIE wrote, with glowing guns, 
Answering, unto LEXINGTON'S 


In the Days when MANHOOD rose 
Quivering with our UNION'S throes ; 
And the coils, for ages woven 
Eound her laboring heart, were cloven ; 
"When from FREEDOM'S loins, in war, 
Slavery's poisonous robe we tore 
NESSUS' shirt from HERCULES 
Smiting off, on blood-red leas, 
Bands that bowed us to our knees 
In those Days when MEN were MEN, 
MANHOOD wrote that name again 

" HANCOCK ! " 

Tell me, ye whose soldier-clay, 
Mingling, molders BLUE with GRAY ; 
Tell me, SOULS OF MEN ! whose marches 
Still advance, where Heaven o'erarchesj 
What was LOST, when MANLY strife 
Gained a MANLY NATION'S life ? 


What was LOST, when Southern BARS 
Backward fought, from Union STARS 
Gilding starry light with scars? 
When, o'er GETTYSBURG, in flame 
On the "Round Top" rose that Name 


What was LOST when ALL is OURS ? 
Manlier men, with manlier powers? 
Memories under May-flowers lying ; 
Sweetening dust with DEEDS undying ! 
UNION, mingling mutual marts ; 
MANHOOD, mingling kindred hearts! 
Steadier march our ranks pursue ; 
LOCK-STEP, now for GRAY and BLUE ! 
And in line that SOLDIERS knew, 
When, " the Wilderness " they trod, 
FORWARD, following under GOD 


The following quotation, from a letter written to the 
" Presbyterian," in September, 1878, by Dr. Junkin, is 
the latest testimonial of that distinguished divine and 
good man to the personal character of General Hancock : 

" General Hancock, whose guest I am, and at whose 
desk these lines are penned, is, as you know, a Pennsyl- 
vanian of the Pennsylvanians. Born near to your city 
(at Montgomery Square), he still has a warm love for 
Pennsylvanians. His fame needs no impulse from my 
pen. But I know the readers of the " Presbyterian " will 
be happy to be told that, unlike some other distinguished 
men, his social character and private morals are as pure 
as his military career has been brilliant and his civil 
record magnanimous." 



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A Gentle Belle. 

A Novel. By CHRISTIAN REID, author of " Valerie Aylmer," " Mor- 
ton House," etc. 8vo. Paper cover. Price, 76 cents. 

*' ' A Gentle Belle' has a strong dramatic interest, and freshness and origi- 
nality of plot. Like its author's previous essays in fiction, it is well written, ahd 
is attractive in style and character. The interest never flags, and the moral is 
sweet and wholesome. Taken for all in all, the work is the most artistic in de- 
sign and execution that its writer has produced." Boston Gazette. 

The Life and Words of Christ. 

By CUNNINGHAM GEIKIE, D. D. A new and cheap edition, printed 
from the same stereotype plates as the fine illustrated edition. 
Complete intone vol., 8vo, 1,258 pages. Cloth. Price, $1.50. 
This is the only cheap edition of Geikie's Life of Christ that contains the 
copious notes of the author, the marginal references, and an index. In its pres- 
ent form it is a marvel of cheapness. 

"A work of the highest rank, breathing the spirit of true faith in Christ." 
Dr. Dehtzsch, the Commentator. 

"A most valuable addition to sacred literature." A N. Littlejohn, D. Z>., 
Bishop of Long Island. 

" I have never seen any life of our Lord which approached so near my ideal of 
such a work." Austin Phelps, D. D., author of " The Still Hour," etc. 

" A great and noble work, rich in information, eloquent and scholarly in style, 
earnestly devout in feeling." London Literary World. 


The Longer Epistles of Paul. 

Viz. : Romans, I Corinthians, II Corinthians. By the Rev. HENRY 
COWLES, D. D. One vol., 12rao. Cloth. Price, $2.00.